First Look


0 | 2018-11-29 11:24:00

The Ministry of Health in collaboration with project partners, the CHASE Fund, the National Health Fund (NHF) and the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), has opened the National Cancer Treatment Centre on the premises of the St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kingston. The Centre was officially opened by the Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton yesterday (November 26, 2018). 
The Centre houses the Linear Accelerator machine, known in medical circles as a Linac, which the partnership funded. 
The Centre at St. Joseph’s Hospital and another established at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in 2017, cost US$16- million, of which the NHF contributed US$10-million, CHASE Fund US$5-million and TEF US$1-million. are the only two in the public health sector to utilize the linear accelerator technology.
Minister Tufton noted that the linear accelerator “is considered to be one of the most advanced in the world, and Jamaica can claim credit to have this piece of the equipment in two locations.”  The Minister emphasized the importance of trained personnel for the facility. “The training of those personnel and partnering with the Cubans and others who came on board to work with us to meet the requirement so that the equipment can be administered was fundamental, and we have to continue the thrust along those lines,” he stated.
CHASE CEO Billy Heaven, said that 26 scholarships had been provided by CHASE to train four (4) biomedical engineers, two (2) medical radiation physicists and four (4) radiation oncologists to work at the centres.  “We have committed funding towards the Ministry’s Oncology nurses training programme for the next five years, so far 16 nurses are being trained as Oncology nurses,” the CEO said.
The Linear Accelerator, which delivers high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells is designed to treat lung, breast, prostate, head, neck, skin and other types of cancer, as well as tumours that move as the patient breathes, with great speed and accuracy.  It has a dose delivery rate that is approximately twice the maximum output of conventional systems thus reducing treatment times for patients.
It is expected that the centres will improve capacity, efficiency, access to and delivery of healthcare, benefit more patients and reduce the waiting time for treatment
Mr. Heaven described the project is “an extremely complex and highly technical venture with standard requirements” and one which carries considerable risk, owing to the use of mega-voltage machines. He noted that all the risk protocols, risk profiles and mitigation measures including radiation safety policies and procedures and treatment protocols had been clearly defined and carefully established from the design stage in order to meet international safety standards.
He praised the partners and stakeholders for their belief in the project, adding that it was important for Jamaica to have the capacity to offer the highest standard and most up-to-date health care.
“The investment in establishing the Cancer Treatment Centres was the largest in the Fund’s history, we are happy to be a part of such a major intervention and expect it to make a significant difference to cancer care in Jamaica,” Heaven said.

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