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Story Highlights

  • Cancer care delivery in the public health system has been further boosted with Monday’s (Nov. 26) opening of Jamaica’s second National Linear Cancer Treatment Centre.
  • The $860 million facility, constructed at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kingston, was formally opened by Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton.
  • Financing was provided by the National Health Fund (NHF); Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE); and Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).

Cancer care delivery in the public health system has been further boosted with Monday’s (Nov. 26) opening of Jamaica’s second National Linear Cancer Treatment Centre.

The $860 million facility, constructed at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kingston, was formally opened by Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton.

Financing was provided by the National Health Fund (NHF); Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE); and Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).

The Kingston centre’s opening comes just over a year after a similar facility, developed at a cost of $770.9 million, commenced operations at Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay.

The centre, similar to the Montego Bay-based facility, utilises state-of-the-art Linear Accelerator (LINAC) machines to administer radiation therapy.

Dr. Tufton, who delivered the keynote address, said that cancer is among the lifestyle and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) accounting for approximately 70 per cent of the 18,000 to 20,000 Jamaicans succumbing to health-related illnesses annually, adding that it is second behind cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Tufton said the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates that 7, 348 Jamaicans will be diagnosed with the disease in 2018, with prostate cancer accounting for 17 per cent of cases, and breast cancer – 13 per cent.

He noted that the first line of defence is always prevention, by encouraging persons to exercise, eat a balanced diet, and knowing their health status in order to minimise risks. However, the Government is cognisant that beyond prevention, “you have to invest in the curative side of things.”

He said that with the establishment of the two treatment centres “we could declare today that Jamaica is adequately equipped on the curative side, because of the investment in this very modern technology… this very important piece of infrastructure.”

NHF Chief Executive Officer [CEO], Everton Anderson, who chairs the LINAC Steering Committee, which piloted the centres’ development, noted that there was significant local and overseas technical support for the project.

This, he said, included assistance and guidance from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), as well as private sector inputs “to ensure that at the end of the day, what is being delivered is safe and effective… and that we are compliant with international standards”.

Mr. Anderson pointed out that the NHF’s US$10 million contribution to the establishment of the Kingston centre, represents the agency’s single largest investment, adding that as the entity celebrates its 15th anniversary of operations this year “there really is no better way to mark [this]”.

CHASE Fund CEO and LINAC Steering Committee Deputy Chairman, Billy Heaven, expressed the hope that the facility will improve access, capacity, efficiency and quality of patient healthcare delivery.

“I hope that the administration of the project will make [it one] that maximises the investments and minimises the cost, and that we end up with the best feasible and most sustainable business model,” he added.

For his part, TEF Executive Director, Dr. Carey Wallace, said the project represents an investment in Jamaica’s greatest resource – its people.

“We invest in our people when we spend on projects like this… where we make this country of ours [a place] where we can feel safe and secure, knowing that we have world-class health facilities,” he noted.