Cancer treatment in Guyana: progress being made
-Says Ramsammy
Guyana Chronicle
July 5, 2004

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GINA - Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy in an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA) said that with proper exercise and diet, the risk of persons developing cancer is greatly reduced.

He noted that treatment for cancer patients is available in Guyana. He was also pleased to note the help given by the Guyana Cancer Society in expanding the education and awareness process.

"In the National Health Plan 2003 to 2007, cancer treatment is a priority," the Health Minister said.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Rudolph Cummings said that it is imperative for persons to become aware of the disease at an early stage.

He noted that an effective screening process and technical personnel are some factors that the Ministry of Health has to look into in order to discover the disease early.

Persons between the ages of 30 and 40 should have a screening test every two years, while those over 40 should be tested annually.

There is a Laboratory at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC), which is expanding on a daily basis.

"We have begun a chemotherapy treatment programme and a loan of about $40M will be spent this year to purchase drugs," said Dr Ramsammy.

Arrangements are being finalised between the private and public sectors, whereby some of the more experienced private doctors will collaborate with the GPHC doctors to treat cancer patients.

Ramsammy said that although there would be a consultation fee, the drugs will be free with the programme scheduled to start shortly.

One area identified by the Health Minister as lacking is radiotherapy.

"This is one problem Guyanese are familiar with and we have made some progress. We had the equipment (ceasuim unit) examined by a physicist from Barbados," he said.

He added that he knows that people are impatient, but talks are underway with two doctors - one from Barbados and one from Trinidad and Tobago - to operate the machine. Talks are also underway with the United States Cancer Society.

Ramsammy expressed disappointment that some persons talk as if nothing is being done.

"Radiotherapy is just an aspect in a broader, more comprehensive programme, and many aspects of the programme are in place, only radiotherapy, and that, too, we have made progress with," he assured.

The Guyana Cancer Society (GCS) has revealed that the mortality rate for cancer patients in Guyana is approximately 60 percent.

A study done with more than 1,000 cancer patients diagnosed between 2002 and 2003, shows that six out of ten persons have died from the disease.

Cancer develops when cells in a certain region of the body begin to grow out of control. Although there are many kinds of cancer, they all start because of out-of-control growth of once-normal cells.