T&T: New paediatric oncology nursing programme launched

THE Ministry of Health yesterday reinforced its fight against cancer with the launch of a Diploma in Paediatric Haematology/Oncology Nursing Programme at the University of the West Indies School of Nursing in El Dorado.

The one-year programme, the first of its kind in the region, is a collaboration between the Nursing School, SickKids-Caribbean Initiative and First Caribbean International Bank.

The first batch of students has a complement of 13 nurses, four of whom are from Trinidad and Tobago, the host island. The others are from Jamaica, St Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Bahamas.

The programme, which began on September 5, focuses primarily on capacity-building among nursing personnel in the treatment of cancer and blood disorders, such as sickle cell anaemia.

It features a clinical practicum and internship Addressing the gathering, visiting paediatric oncologist Dr Victor Blanchette, said the Sick Kids-Caribbean Initiative was a collaborative effort between seven different medical and academic institutions in the six Caribbean territories and The Hospital for Sick Children in Canada.

He said since the launch of the project, some eight years ago, the success rate for children with cancer has increased exponentially.

“Just over 50 years ago, a diagnosis of acute leukaemia in a child meant almost certain death. Today, in Canada, over 85 per cent of all such children are cured of their cancer following treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells and, in some cases, radiation therapy,” he said.

In endorsing the initiative, Heath Minister Terrence Deyalsingh expressed hope that the programme will bolster treatment for children afflicted with cancer and blood diseases.

However, in a speech delivered by Principal Medical Officer Dr Clive Tilluckdharry, Deyalsingh again lamented the shortage of nurses in the country.

“The most recent information indicates that the Regional Health Authorities have a vacancy rate of 31.1 per cent amongst nursing personnel.

That is equal to 2,146 vacant posts of registered nurses and enrolled nursing assistants,” Deyalsingh said. (Trinidad Newsday)

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