Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Stop wasting money on expensive tests, equipment - urologist

Published:Monday | May 22, 2017 | 5:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Dr Robert Wan

While highlighting the need for Jamaica's health sector to capitalise on new technology available to screen patients, consultant urologist Dr Robert Wan has argued that policymakers should be equally cautious in ensuring that resources are not wasted on tests and equipment that patients will not be able to afford.

Commenting on the affordability of conducting prostate cancer tests, Wan expressed disappointment that companies have not been able to make equipment more affordable to developing countries.

"There is advantage to be gained by spending all of these funds, but can we afford a drug that's going to cost half a million dollars per month? Can we afford a test that's going to cost US$3,000 or US$4,000 to get it done? I believe if we can't afford those tests, then we [should] use the tests that are available in the best way we can," he told The Gleaner following the 59th staging of the Annual Clinical Conference, which was hosted by the Association of Surgeons in Jamaica on the weekend.

"We can do prostate biopsy with an ultrasound and we get pretty good results. We could improve it a bit if we use the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), but to do an MRI and a biopsy in Miami costs over US$4,000. We just have to be careful with how we apply it," he said.

Addressing the level of awareness among men regarding prostate cancer, Wan said he was encouraged.

"Men are more willing to come forward now [to be screened]. Of course, there are those who shy away, but there has been a lot in the media about prostate cancer and the importance of detecting it early. More and more persons are coming forward to be tested," he said.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com