The new Institute of Health Science Education and Oncology Department of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) has been commissioned.
The building was opened officially yesterday during a simple ceremony held in the GPHC compound.
The new wing was constructed primarily to facilitate the demand for cancer treatment.
Recent statistics released by the Ministry of Public Health indicates that Guyana’s currently has the highest incidence of cancer-related mortality in the Caribbean.
Based on the Ministry’s data, Guyana ranks highest with an incidence rate of 46.9 percent and a mortality rate of 21.0 per 100,000 persons, Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence said.
In fact, in Guyana, cervical cancer alone kills an estimated 100 women every year, making it the leading cause of cancer mortality among local women, Minister Lawrence said.
The global state of affairs is farther reaching with some 530,000 new cases of cervical cancer detected annually and killing approximately 266,000 women or 50.2 percent of the total cancer victims.
To arrest the challenge here, Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence, touted the need for early screening of Guyanese to help reduce the locally recorded deaths from cancers.
Minister Lawrence is worried that if the cancer-related mortality trend continues, generations of Guyanese will grow up not knowing close family members.
During the opening ceremony, Minister Lawrence again highlighted the alarming figures and stressed the importance of having a more robust cancer prevention scheme.
She said that the Public Health Ministry is currently fine tuning a comprehensive cancer prevention and control programme for Guyana.
“We recognize that common risks factors for cancers such as tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and alcohol abuse must be reduced.”
The Minister lauded the efforts of health officials in having the new oncology unit up and running.
She noted that the recent figures as they relate to cancer cases and deaths are the reason the extension of the oncology services has been a top priority of the Ministry of Public Health.
“We have gone to such lengths to ensure that we have a building designed uniquely for cancer accommodation.”
The Ministry of Public Health recognizes that in order for this challenge to be arrested, Guyana needs to provide for the early screening, treatment and diagnosis for Guyanese to help reduce the rate of cancer deaths.”
Lawrence added that the new unit is just the beginning of what is proposed for an upgraded oncology department.
“The idea is to have a facility where persons can receive optimal cancer care… Patients should have access to the best services at the facility at no cost to them,” Lawrence emphasized.
Speaking about the other functions of the new unit, Minister Lawrence said that the Health Science Education Department plays an essential role of the effective functioning of health services in Guyana, more particularly the Ministry of Public Health.
She explained that the Institute is key to providing human resource personnel to the health sector.
The Post Graduate programmes offered entails comprehensive advance training in specialized areas.
“Our aim is to produce at the core of health care providers with adequate skills to work across Guyana,” she said.
Owing to the increasing incidence of patients afflicted by cancer on its register, last year, GPHC had taken steps to expand its Oncology Unit.
At present, the Oncology Unit has four doctors, three Government Medical Officers, three nurses, consultants, a social worker and a nutritionist. The Social Worker advocates on behalf of patients who are cash-strapped for financial support from the Public Health Ministry.
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