THE EDITOR, Sir:
In recent weeks, the press, through four articles, highlighted the stories of three patients (Dillon Williams, Ajani Campbell and Sasha Gaye Lewis) who were reported as being unable to afford $1.7m-$2m for 3D radiation therapy at The Radiation Oncology Centre of Jamaica Ltd (ROCJ), and whose lives are threatened as a result.
When a patient walks through our door to request a quotation for treatment, he/she is given a quotation for the full cost, which may range from $500,000-$2m for three to eight weeks of daily treatment, along with other related clinical services.
ROCJ, however, provides significant discounts in the order of 50-70 per cent to needy public-hospital patients with cancer, through the Kingston Public Hospital or the Ministry of Health Compassionate Fund.
Contrary to these stories in the press, ROCJ had offered, through KPH (April 3, 2013), to treat Sasha Gaye Lewis and Dillon (July 31, 2013) for $600,000 each.
Further to a request from the Ministry of Health Compassionate Fund, ROCJ offered to treat Ajani for $900,000. It is significant to note that these discounts have not been reported.
Additionally, it should be noted that the fees charged by ROCJ, even at full cost, are a fraction of what is charged not only in North America but also in the English-speaking Caribbean although our operational expenses associated with this technology are the same or, in some cases, higher.
Since 2008, ROCJ has made numerous offers to the Ministry of Health for a public-private sector partnership to treat public patients at a discounted rate of 70 per cent, given the large volume of patients in need of the advanced level of treatment which our centre offers.
This type of public-private sector partnership for the delivery of radiation therapy to public patients currently exists in the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago, and is working to the advantage of all interests.
Above all, to provide health care in an ever-changing and expensive technology-based environment, a partnership between Government and private sector is critical for the provision of quality health care to the Jamaican people.
W.F.B. CLARKE (Dr)