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Life Healthcare set to acquire nuclear-medicine operation in SA

Life Healthcare Group continues its South African diversification strategy with the acquisition of TheraMed Nuclear’s non-clinical imaging operations in Gauteng.

TheraMed Nuclear is a nuclear medicine and molecular imaging business offering advanced-technology medical scanning services for the detection and treatment of diseases, such as organ dysfunction and cancer.

“The acquisition further entrenches our commitment to investing in medical imaging in South Africa, with our capability now extending into nuclear and molecular imaging. As part of this journey, we plan to drive improved accessibility for clinicians and their patients in earlier detection and more accurate treatment planning for cancer patients across the country”, says Adam Pyle, Life Healthcare CEO, southern Africa. The move complements the joint venture with AXIM announced last year to develop two cyclotrons in South Africa, which will improve the stability of radiotracer supply. “This first nuclear-medicine acquisition for Life Healthcare serves to complement the expansion of our Oncology services and furthers the growth in our non-acute business, following our acquisitions of the non-clinical operations of East Coast Radiology and Eugene Marais Radiology”, he said.

TheraMed Nuclear operates three sites in Gauteng in association with one of the largest multisite diagnostic radiology practices in South Africa, who will continue to provide associated clinical radiology services going forward.

Similar to PET-CT, sister modality SPECT is a nuclear-medicine imaging technique, which uses a radiotracer and a special camera to create 3D pictures of internal organs. SPECT provides a three-dimensional picture of both physiological and pathological processes. These 3D images can be superimposed on an anatomical image from a CT scanner, providing information about lesion location, the shape and size of organs and tissues, rather than just their function. These fused modalities such as PET-CT and SPECT-CT form part of Hybrid Imaging.

PET-CT scans use a low dose of radioactive nuclear medicine injectables (radiopharmaceuticals) to check the activity or metabolic processes of cells in different parts of the body and can give more detailed information about cancer or abnormal areas compared to X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans alone. “PET-CT scans are important to help clinicians determine if a tumour may be cancerous, whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body or how well treatment is working”, explained Dr Mark Ferreira, Group Chief Medical Officer for Life Healthcare.

The acquisition process will see all infrastructure, equipment and staff employed at TheraMed Nuclear being transferred to Life Healthcare.

The purchase forms part of the Life Healthcare Group’s broader South African diagnostics strategy which includes diagnostic imaging and nuclear medicine. “We believe that including imaging and diagnostics within our business operations aligns well with our core operating model and strategic objectives,” adds Pyle. “In time, we hope our efforts will expand access to quality care for all South Africans, especially critical care of oncology patients.”

TheraMed’s Dr George Bennie is excited about what the transaction heralds for the advancement of nuclear medicine in South Africa. “This is an opportunity to promote greater access to early diagnosis and appropriate care – which will save lives,” he says. “Having served these communities for many years, I am encouraged by Life Healthcare’s vision for nuclear medicine which is aligned to ours.”

The transaction is set to be finalised by mid-year.