Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Port of Spain, April 24, 2012:
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago through the Ministry of Health continues to improve the delivery of health care services in the country. Chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs), including cancer, are a growing epidemic here in Trinidad and Tobago, with cancer being the second leading cause of deaths among adults. The Ministry of Health places considerable emphasis on and will continue to invest significantly in cancer services and cancer control in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Ministry offers free to all citizens the full management of cancer treatment utilizing both primary and secondary health care, from diagnosis to advanced management and palliative care at all the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs).
The future national cancer strategy would utilize a hub of three (3) specialist cancer treatment centres located at the National Oncology Centre (NOC) at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), the National Radiotherapy Centre (NRC) at the St. James Medical Complex and a new National Centre for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCNCD) in Penal. The NRC in St James is currently the flagship referral centre of oncology care in the public sector, however the recommencement of work on the NOC and the construction of the new NCNCD will provide a multidisciplinary team approach to cancer treatment nationwide.
National Oncology Centre
Cabinet approval was received for the recommencement of work on the National Oncology Centre (NOC) at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) and the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) has been appointed as the project developers for the construction of the NOC. Approval was also obtained for the purchase of the license for the architectural drawings which are currently under review. Tenders for the construction of the NOC are expected to be issued in June 2012 with a proposed project handover and commissioning by 2015.
The NOC, when established, would become the one-stop-shop for cancer care using a multidisciplinary team approach, from diagnosis to treatment to cure under the central control of a specialist care team of Oncologists, Specialist Physicians, Specialist Surgeons, Interventional Radiologists, Histopathologists, Hematologists, Palliative Care and Pain Management Specialists, Oncology Pharmacists, Oncology Nurses, Medical Physicists, Radiation Therapists, Dosimetrists, and Counselors/Social Workers.
National Radiology Centre
The National Radiotherapy Centre (NRC) located at the St. James Medical Complex, St. James is the current flagship referral centre of oncology care in the public sector, and provides a comprehensive range of cancer care services from a highly qualified group of specialists oncology professionals including: radiation therapy, CT based treatment planning, low-dose brachytherapy, in-patient and out-patient chemotherapy, palliative radiotherapy, palliative care, diagnostic radiography services, comprehensive pharmacy services as well as counseling and support services.
National Centre for Non-Communicable Diseases
While the NOC and NRC are cancer treatment centres, there are no specialist facilities designed to treat with other CNCDs and related illnesses. In recognition of the upsurge CNCDs such as diabetes and cancer in Trinidad and Tobago, a National Centre for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCNCD) would be constructed. The NCNCD will provide specialist treatment for CNCDs including cancer. Cabinet approval was received on March 22, 2012 for the construction of the NCNCD in Penal. The Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) has been appointed as the project developers for the construction of the NCNCD which when completed would contain state-of-the-art specialist treatment facilities and ancillary support services such as doctors on call accommodation, training facilities, dormitories, canteen facilities and gift shops.
Other Cancer services and plans
Specialist cancer care is also available at three (3) satellite cancer service units at the Sangre Grande Hospital, the San Fernando General Hospital and the Scarborough Regional Hospital. There is also Specialist Lung Cancer Service at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), and a Breast Assessment Centre at the NRC.
Other plans are the decentralization of chemotherapy services to the RHAs, expansion of the cancer drug formulary, national scholarships and bursaries to nationals pursuing specialist training in oncology and the establishment of two (2) baccalaureate degree programmes in oncology nursing and radiation therapy training at the School of Advanced Nursing (SANE), UWI and COSTTAAT respectively;
The Ministry will continue to lead on health initiatives to emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle for the prevention of CNCDs such as our Fight The Fat Campaign, health fairs, educational lectures and our annual Caribbean Wellness Day.