Minister of Health Horace Dalley (fourth left) breaks ground for a state-of-the-art cancer treatment centre at the St Joseph’s Hospital compound in Kingston on Thursday. Also breaking ground are: Minister of Labour and Social Security and former Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson (second left); minister of state in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Julian Robinson (fourth right), and board member, CHASE Fund, Joseph Matalon. Others (from third left) are: Executive Director of Jamaica Cancer Society Yulit Gordon; Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Fund Everton Anderson; Chairman of the National Health Fund Sterling Soares; and Chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority Dr Andrei Cooke.
A new state-of-the-art cancer treatment centre is to be built on the grounds of the St Joseph’s Hospital in Kingston. It is expected to be completed in 12 months.A similar centre , which will be located at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James, is expected to be completed in mid-2016. Ground was broken for this centre in November last year.
The centres will be outfitted with linear accelerator machines, which are the most modern technology in radiotherapy treatment. They are being built at a cost of US$14.5 million, with the major funding partners being the National Health Fund, which donated US$10 million; the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education Fund (CHASE), US$3.5 million; and the Tourism Enhancement Fund, US$1 million.
Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony at St Joseph’s Hospital on Thursday, Health Minister Horace Dalley said the centres represent one of the “largest investments” by the Government in the provision of equipment and service to the country’s health sector.
Dalley also said that the centres form a crucial component of the Government’s health strategies that are being developed to tackle non-communicable diseases, such as cancer.
He said the facility will strengthen the country’s cancer care systems and will enable Jamaicans, particularly the poor, to access high-quality cancer treatment.
Dalley noted that in 2010, more than 3,000 Jamaicans died from cancer, and that this represents 21 per cent of total deaths in the country. “We as a Government must ensure that we can minimise death as a result of the care that we offer and that is why we are here today,” he said.
Other donors to the project are: Vincent HoSang Family Foundation, Jamaica Association of Administrative Professionals, and Lasco Distributors Limited.
Varian Medical Systems, a United States-based company, is the contractor. They are one of only two companies in the world which manufacture linear accelerator machines and were awarded the contract by Cabinet on February 16 last year.