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New hope for cancer patients
Plans for the construction of an oncology centre at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex at Mt Hope is well under way. This comes after Health Minister Fuad Khan’s announcement last year that plans for a centre were back on track. And yesterday, the ministry’s health systems adviser Stewart Smith assured nurses gathered at Capital Plaza Hotel, Wrightson Road, that the centre would indeed be built.
“Yes, folks, it is going to happen. The National Oncology Centre at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) would become the one-stop-shop for cancer care, under the co-ordination of a specialist team of care providers,” he said. He made the announcement after president of the T&T Registered Nurses Association Valerie Alleyne-Rawlins called for the reactivation of the centre, as she delivered the welcome address at the nursing conference.
Plans for the centre’s construction stalled after it was initially announced in 2007 by PNM health minister John Rahael. A row between contractors developed in 2008 under minister Jerry Narace which resulted in the project being stopped. Another announcement was made in January 2011 by former health minister Therese Baptiste-Cornelis, and in June last year Khan again announced that the centre would be constructed.
Smith said the oncology centre was one aspect of the Government’s national cancer plan, aimed at combating the increasing incidence of the disease. Other government initiatives included tobacco legislation, offering national scholarships to medical professionals pursuing specialist training in oncology, establishing degree programmes in oncology at UWI and UTT and the recently implement HPV vaccine administered to prepubescent girls.
The centre would provide radiation therapy services, chemotherapy, CT and MRI diagnostic imaging among other services. Smith said the Urban Development Corporation (Udecott), would announce the successful tender for the long-awaited project by next week. Last year, Khan said the centre would be opened by November 2014 at an approximate cost of $663 million, not including $52 million for equipment.
Smith, however, told the media the tender included architecture and design as well as equipment. The centre, he said, would be completed in 24 months. A request for proposals published last year by Udecott called for suitably qualified contractors to construct and outfit the centre.
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