Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 17, 2015 (SKNIS): Residents of St. Kitts and Nevis will soon have access to a new cancer treatment facility as outlined in the 2016 Budget.
Minister of State responsible for Health Honourable Wendy Phipps during his budget response gave more details on the establishment of the oncology unit at the Joseph N. France General Hospital.
“This unit will be established at the back end of the private ward that is presently unused,” she said, revealing that that section has its own entry, lobby and controlled access. “And there are several staff positions that would have been created to facilitate that, as well as budgetary augmentation for the cost of the drugs associated with it, specifically the chemotherapy drugs. And while I’m on that note, I also mention that we have already developed a strategic alliance with the Eastern Caribbean Cancer Centre located in Antigua to which we can refer persons with more serious cases, especially those in need of radiation therapy.”
Minister Phipps specifically addressed cervical cancer for which the findings of a recently concluded study had be revealed in 2015.
“Earlier this year the results of an HPV study were revealed, that study focusing on the incidents of the human papillomavirus [HPV] that causes cervical cancer in women and we are now discovering oral cancers for persons engaging in practices such as oral sex,” she said, noting that the study was funded by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO). “Four hundred and two persons took part in this study on a voluntary basis and of that 402, a total of 102 persons presented with high risk behavior that would contribute to HPV. “At the same time, we also note that a number of persons, at least 5 or 6 of those cases had to be referred for serious care and intervention.”
The Minister outlined that had the study not taken place, certain women who were at risk would not have known their status and would have possibly experienced more serious health issues.
It was also revealed that in 2016 steps would be taken towards making the HPV vaccine available for pubescent boys and girls in the Federation. Minister Phipps emphasized that the vaccine was not mandatory.
“This is an entirely voluntary vaccine programme, we are not forcing it on parents,” she said, revealing that it would not be provided free of cost but that a single dose is approximately US$30 to US$40 and it would have to be given in 3 doses, before the child becomes sexually active.
“Our ministry will be doing a lot of sensitization on the new year, so that parents and guardians can be aware of what we are trying to achieve in terms of cutting down on the incidents of cervical cancer and by extension oral cancers.”