Minister of Health, Dr the Honourable Fuad Khan
Port of Spain: April 25, 2012
Government will soon construct a National Centre for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCNCD) to address the address the upsurge in non-communicable diseases CNCDs such as diabetes and cancer in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Ministry of Health announced the centre, which would be constructed in Penal, will provide specialist treatment for CNCDs including cancer.
The Ministry said Cabinet's approval was received on March 22 for the construction of the NCNCD and the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) has been appointed as the project developers. When completed the centre would contain state-of-the- art specialist treatment facilities and ancillary support services such as doctors on call accommodation, training facilities, dormitories, canteen facilities and gift shops.
The Ministry of Health has advised that Cabinet has approved the recommencement of work on the National Oncology Centre (NOC) at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) and so, tenders for the construction of the NOC are expected to be issued in June 2012, with a proposed project handover and commissioning by 2015.
The Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) has been appointed as the project developers for the construction of the NOC. Approval was also obtained for the purchase of the license for the architectural drawings which are currently under review.
The NOC, when established, would become the one-stop-shop for cancer care using a multidisciplinary team approach, from diagnosis to treatment to cure under the central control of a specialist care team of Oncologists, Specialist Physicians, Specialist Surgeons, Interventional Radiologists, Histopathologists, Hematologists, Palliative Care and Pain Management Specialists, Oncology Pharmacists, Oncology Nurses, Medical Physicists, Radiation Therapists, Dosimetrists, and Counselors/Social Workers.
Chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs), including cancer, are a growing epidemic in Trinidad and Tobago, with cancer being the second leading cause of deaths among adults. As a result, the Ministry continues to place considerable emphasis on and invest significantly in cancer services and cancer control in Trinidad and Tobago.
As such, the Ministry of Health continues to offer free to all citizens the full management of cancer treatment utilizing both primary and secondary health care, from diagnosis to advanced management and palliative care at all the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs).
The Ministry also announced that the future national cancer strategy would utilise a hub of three specialist cancer treatment centres located at the National Oncology Centre (NOC) at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), the National Radiotherapy Centre (NRC) at the St. James Medical Complex and a new National Centre for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCNCD) in Penal.
The NRC in St James is currently the flagship referral centre of oncology care in the public sector; however the recommencement of work on the NOC and the construction of the new NCNCD will provide a multidisciplinary team approach to cancer treatment nationwide.
The National Radiotherapy Centre (NRC) located at the St. James Medical Complex, St. James is the current flagship referral centre of oncology care in the public sector, and provides a comprehensive range of cancer care services from a highly qualified group of specialists oncology professionals including: radiation therapy, CT based treatment planning, low-dose brachytherapy, in-patient and out-patient chemotherapy, palliative radiotherapy, palliative care, diagnostic radiography services, comprehensive pharmacy services as well as counseling and support services.
While the NOC and NRC are cancer treatment centres, there are no specialist facilities designed to treat with other CNCDs and related illnesses.
The Ministry also said specialist cancer care is also available at three satellite cancer service units at the Sangre Grande Hospital, the San Fernando General Hospital and the Scarborough Regional Hospital. There is also Specialist Lung Cancer Service at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), and a Breast Assessment Centre at the NRC.
The Ministry also announced additional plans to enhance the treatment of cancer in Trinidad and Tobago, such as the decentralization of chemotherapy services to the RHAs, expansion of the cancer drug formulary, national scholarships and bursaries to nationals pursuing specialist training in oncology and the establishment of two baccalaureate degree programmes in oncology nursing and radiation therapy training at the School of Advanced Nursing (SANE), UWI and COSTTAAT respectively.