Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 06, 2019 (SKNIS): Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said that the first Oncology Unit to be established at the Joseph Nathaniel France (JNF) General Hospital is a product of his Team Unity Administration’s “commitment to constantly improve on delivery of healthcare.”

“It is important to observe that for the first time in the history of healthcare an Oncology wing was established under the Team Unity Government. We have brought that into existence because we want to focus on an ailment that is pervasive in the region, and to bring order in the management of healthcare to cancer patients,” said Dr. Harris during his monthly press conference on Monday, November 04.  “So we are doing the best that we can,” he added.

At the launch of the unit back in December 2016, Chief Surgeon and Medical Chief of Staff, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson said that, in the past, residents were forced to travel overseas to access oncologic treatment such as chemotherapy. He stated that, “This centre will add years to the lives of people living with cancer, and it will ensure that breadwinners in families [do] not simply succumb to their disease but [instead would] continue their active lives while they receive the appropriate and timely treatment. This centre will ensure that no one will die because they could not afford to travel overseas for treatment.”

The Oncology Unit at the JNF General Hospital, which was officially opened on December 06, 2016, has so far treated 119 patients between January 2017 and February 2019, according to Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws.

The CMO explained that, “All cancer patients are different. They present with different stages of cancers and so their [regimen] has to be worked out based on a number of factors.”

Dr. Laws added that, once a prescribed course of medical treatment for an individual cancer patient is worked out, “there is an assessment as to the availability of the medication [s].”

The CMO stated that, “Most of the cancer oncology drugs are presently available at the JNF General Hospital.”

Dr. Laws also said that, “If per chance there is a patient on a particular regime, and there may be one out of many drugs on that regime that is not available, it is easily ascertained.” The CMO said that three weeks ago, three oncology medications were out of stock at that time, but have since been procured.

After the CMO’s presentation at Monday’s press conference, Prime Minister Harris said, “I was heartened that you explained that… their particular prescription has to be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on how the cancer is impacting them – and wherever there have been cases where prescriptions are unavailable, the quickest route is taken to have them there [ at the Oncologic Unit]. Reasonable people can’t ask for more.”