Officially opened Dec. 6, 2016, the Oncology Unit at the JNF General Hospital has treated 119 patients between Jan. 2017 and Feb. 2019, according to Dr. Hazel Laws (left, bottom row). Prime Minister Harris, (right) commended health officials in St. Kitts and Nevis for giving yeoman service to the Oncology Unit.

Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said the first Oncology Unit to be established at the Joseph Nathaniel France (JNF) General Hospital is a product of his administration’s “commitment to constantly improve on delivery of healthcare” during his monthly press conference Monday.

“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, “So we are doing the best that we can.”

At the launch of the unit in Dec. 2016, Chief Surgeon and Medical Chief of Staff, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson noted in the past, residents were forced to travel overseas to access oncologic treatment such as chemotherapy.

“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,” he said.

The Oncology Unit at the JNF General Hospital has treated 119 patients between Jan. 2017 and Feb. 2019, according to Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws.

“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,” the CMO explained, adding 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]. Most of the cancer oncology drugs are presently available at the JNF General Hospital.

“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,” Dr. Laws added.

The CMO cited as an example that three weeks ago, three oncology medications were out of stock, but have since been procured.

“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,” Prime Minister Harris said after the CMO’s presentation.