Cancer fighting units stay mothballed
-expert cancelled trip
Stabroek News
January 14, 2004

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The two cancer-fighting units stored at the Georgetown Public Hospital are yet to be activated and the Barbadian expert who was expected to examine the machines cancelled his trip at the last minute, says (GPHC) Chief Executive Officer Michael Khan.

After a big row over the delays, Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy had said that the expert would arrive and the caesium would have been in operation.

The minister is now recuperating in the USA following heart surgery. Khan last week said that the hospital was working on getting the same expert to visit sometime later this month.

According to him they just want the expert to give them the okay and then they would "start the ball rolling. We just want to verify that everything is in place."

The machines were purchased with assistance from the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) and when Stabroek News contacted a source there this newspaper was told that the last thing the organisation had heard was that two experts were expected from Barbados. The source said they were told this by the minister who promised that the process would have been completed "quickly" and the machines would have been put into operation.

It was pointed out that this year the president of the CIOG will have to attend a donors meeting in Kuwait and would have to report on the units. The source said that by that time it was hoped that the machines would have been operational and persons would have already benefited. This would have been an excellent report to take to the meeting, according to the source. Stabroek News also learnt that the minister had told the CIOG president that should the machines not be in operation in time for the meeting, he would have given him a letter to take to the donors.

However, the source pointed out that the donors are not interested in any letters since one was delivered to a meeting few years ago written by the then Minister of Health, Dr Henry Jeffrey.

The source said many women were suffering from cervical cancer and some of them were being left to die as they could not get treatment overseas.

The units were bought some four years ago with the assistance of US$20,000 from CIOG and have been stored at the hospital ever since.

The units are used to treat women who have cancer of the cervix and according to persons in the fight against cancer, if these units were put into operation then the money used to send women with cancer of the cervix overseas could be used to assist those who have other types of the disease.

There had been a public row between the Head of the Medical Council of Guyana, Dr. MY Bacchus and Ramsammy over reports that the ministry was looking at other cancer-fighting technology. But Ramsammy later said, "The units are going to be used and they are going to be used far earlier than most people think".