OECS opens new cancer treatment centre in Antigua
Residents within the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) sub-grouping will no longer have to travel abroad for treatment of cancers and other chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs).
This as the grouping on Friday formally opened its OECS Eastern Caribbean Cancer Centre in St John’s Antigua.
The Centre is the brainchild of former prime minister now opposition leader Baldwin Spencer took three years from ground breaking in April 2012 to formal opening in June 2015 and is patterned after a similar centre in The Bahamas.
Although based in Antigua and Barbuda, the centre will be jointly owned by all OECS member states.
Addressing the formal opening, Spencer pointed out that “for the first time a large number of persons would have the opportunity for cancer care at affordable cost and accessible at their doorsteps.”
According to him, “The Cancer Centre will improve the provision of accessible cancer treatment services throughout the sub region, since the centre will provide high quality medical radiation and surgical oncology services which will be markedly discounted for government supported patients.”
Cancer services at government hospitals throughout the sub region is expected to be boosted through regular oncology clinics, developing cost effective and safe chemo therapy services providing oversight and expertise in the various islands and by providing major cost savings to partner governments.
Current chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and prime minister of The Bahamas, Perry Christie, highlighted the fact that every year more than 1,000 persons are diagnosed with cancer in the OECS.
He also noted the opportunity for medical tourism even as he underscored the importance of healthier lifestyles by regional citizens.
He said, “The leading causes of death in Caribbean populations are cardiovascular disease and cancer.
“The Caribbean region leads the Americas in heart and blood vessel diseases, cancer, diabetes and lung disease mortality rates.”
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne echoed his Caribbean counterpart, revealing that, since his administration took office, his health minister Molwyn Joseph has initiated a unique undertaking to help government ministers pay greater attention to their health; they are mandated to weigh themselves at the start of every cabinet meeting.
Browne noted the importance of this initiative explaining that 75 percent of deaths in Antigua and Barbuda are from chronic non-communicable diseases especially cancer.
By 2025 treatment of CNCDs are projected to cost low and middle income countries a total of seven trillion dollars according to the World Economic Forum, a revelation made by Joseph.
Whithfield Turner – Caribbean News Now