Effort underway to open new cancer centre

A new cancer treatment centre is being completed at the northern section of the private ward of the Joseph N. France Hospital as a point of care and treatment for cancer patients. According to Junior Minister of Health Wendy Phipps, plans are underway for the first cancer patient to be admitted by the end of May or early June.

The treatment centre is an effort to provide better care for persons diagnosed with cancer, Minister Phipps told a news conference to launch CIBC FirstCaribbean bank’s annual ‘Walk for the Cure.’ She announced oncologist Dr. Christabel Pernas, a Cuban national, has been hired as the first step in this process.

At this point, Minister Phipps indicated they are staffing the facility.

“The facility is already in the process of having staff positions filled, an oncologist is already here and we are now dealing with the recruitment of nurses,” Minister Phipps explained. “Local staff capacity is being built by training existing nurses, as it relates to mixing cocktail drugs to administer chemotherapy.”

The minister explained the health facility is currently not in a position to provide radiation treatment for cancer patients. She noted radiation treatment is a very costly venture when factoring in the cost of electricity and equipment.

Against that backdrop, she stated for this reason an alliance was fostered with the Cancer Centre in Antigua and Barbuda, where a number of local patients seek treatment.

She pointed out there are still other options in the region outside of Antigua and Barbuda that provide a similar service including, Trinidad, Puerto Rico and Barbados.

“The intention is to at least have something basic here in St. Kitts and Nevis,” Minister Phipps explained. “We are at the point where we are trying to find the ethic of at least five or six of the better more effective cancer therapy drugs as it relates to oncology, before we make a final decision.”

In addition, the minister revealed they are looking to source drugs for cancer treatment at a reduced cost and are exploring new markets for the medications.

“The Federation saw a downward trend in the number of new cancer cases patients between 2010 and 2014,” Minister of Health Eugene Hamilton said. “From 2004 to 2010 there were 371 new case of cancer, excluding skin cancer.”

India is one market being explored; this would see St. Kitts and Nevis joining several other territories that obtain drugs from the Asian market.(The St Kitts & Nevis Observer)

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