KINGSTON — The Government is in the process of acquiring new radioactive elements, valued at more than $42.7 million, for the treatment of patients with cancer and other radiosensitive diseases.
The radioactive elements will be installed in Cobalt machines at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) and Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH).
Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, said the installation of the new radioactive sources will reduce the waiting time for patients in need of radiotherapy treatment, improve the quality of radiation therapy, and enhance the level of radiation services in the public health sector by providing greater access to therapy.
He was speaking yesterday at a function to officially open the Cari-Med Wing and Oncology Pharmacy at the Hope Institute in St. Andrew.
Minister Spencer said that the Ministry is taking a comprehensive look at cancer treatment in the public sector.
He informed that a regional technical team has been established to develop a concept paper on the treatment of cancers and the infrastructure and human resource capacity that are required to provide efficient cancer treatment in the public health sector. “This has become important given the increasing number of persons, who present at the public health facilities with cancer,” he said.
The Health Minister pointed out that in 2009 there were 4,315 discharges from Government hospitals for cancer, including the University Hospital of the West Indies. He noted that of the total cancer visits during 2009, 603 were made to KPH and 387 to CRH.
“The total numbers seen at both KPH and CRH increased by 59.1 per cent and 33.4 per cent, respectively, when comparisons were made between the years 2005 and 2008. The total radiotherapy treatments done at KPH in 2009 were 22,685, whilst at the CRH, it was 4,974,” Minister Spencer informed.
The Minister went on to praise the Cari-Med Foundation for its investment in upgrading the private wing and construction of the new oncology pharmacy, which, he said, will result in improved service delivery to patients.
Chairman of the Cari-Med Foundation, Glenford Christian, said the body was inspired to become involved with the Hope Institute “when we saw the passion, commitment and dedication of the staff and persons, who benefit immeasurably from the institute.”
He informed that to date, apart from the refurbishing of the wing and construction of the pharmacy, the Foundation has also renovated treatment and store rooms, outfitted new bathrooms, installed new water heaters, and provided material support.
The Cari-Med Foundation was established in 2007 by Cari-Med Limited as a charitable organisation with the objective of providing grant funds and infrastructure to support health and education-related initiatives in Jamaica.
The Hope Institute, located in Elletson Flat, provides palliative care for cancer patients across the island. The facility was established in 1963 and remained privately owned until the 1970s when it was taken over by the Government.
By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter