Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Health ministry collaborates with atomic agency to fight cancer

Published:Wednesday | October 22, 2014 | 12:00 AM

AS THE Government seeks to implement preventive cancer measures, it is collaborating with the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency to include nuclear technology in the fight against the disease.

Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson said the cost of treating cancer patients places a huge burden on the public health system and on families, and he is taking several steps to "holistically deal with cancer".

"We have engaged the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is assisting us to reintroduce nuclear medicine technology in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer at the University of the West Indies," the minister told a Breast Cancer Month forum held last week Wednesday at the Knutsford Court Hotel, St Andrew.

Measures in place

"We have put measures in place to not only provide treatment services for persons with cancer, but to ensure that we improve primary prevention, screening, early detection, diagnosis, rehabilitation, survivorship and palliative care," he added.

According to Minister Ferguson, a recent exposé featuring breast cancer patients revealed that they had spent a minimum of $2 million to $3 million after their diagnoses, and that an individual can spend up to $4 million for a full course of a particular drug to treat breast cancer, which is just one aspect of the treatment required.

He noted that, so far, the ministry's cancer improvement programme has resulted in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the ministry and the Canada-based Sunnybrook Health Services "to develop systems of cancer care, emergency pre-hospital care, trauma and emergency medicine, and chronic disease management".

Ferguson said the ministry has also established MOUs with Columbia University, and the United Kingdom-based Chain of Hope, for the cancer care drive, and has set up the National Cancer Registry "to assess the burden, track and monitor the cancer epidemic in Jamaica, so that our interventions can be evidence based".