May 03, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The Caribbean Cancer Research Institute (CCRI), a registered not-for-profit organisation based in Trinidad and Tobago is reaching out to Guyanese to offer support in the area of cancer diagnosis management and treatment.
At present, the non-profit which was officially launched in 2016, is offering its service free of charge for Guyanese who need a second opinion on their diagnosis. During an interview with this newspaper, CCRI’s Clinical Director, Dr. Akash Maniam explained that seeking a second opinion after diagnosis is quite common especially when a patient has a rare form of tumour/cancer.
Maniam explained that given the limited resources across the Caribbean Region especially as it relates to the diagnosis for the rarer forms of cancers, CCRI sees assisting CARICOM nationals in this regard as critical.
“Part of our goal is to increase awareness of our oncology telemedicine service, in which we offer for free our service to all Caribbean-cancer patients who might want advice or second opinions on their case,” Dr. Maniam stated.
The Clinical Director also stressed the deficiency that exists across the region in the area of cancer research and treatment. He noted that with the exception of Barbados and Jamaica, several Caribbean territories struggle with this aspect of cancer treatment.
“CCRI was basically formed out of a realisation of how little the Caribbean region knows about cancer in its population how astounding cancer prevalence is and how much ground we have to cover before medical advances can reach our shores… At CCRI, we have a team of researchers, physicians, oncologists, and health who help to bridge that gap between research and practical medicine,” he added.
At present, Dr. Maniam said that CCRI can reach patients in need of information or support in any part of the Caribbean through the telemedicine aspect of their work.
According to him, CCRI telemedicine was set up for doctors and other types of specialists to reach patients in distant locations through various forms of telecommunication, offering them expert opinions on diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Maniam noted however that telemedicine is a fairly new function of CCRI. Prior to this, CCRI has been functioning primarily in Trinidad and Tobago. As such, he noted that the rollout of its telemedicine service is critical.
So far, CCRI has reached out to the Guyana Cancer Foundation, a local NGO headed by Bibi Hassan for partnership and support.
Dr. Maniam stressed that besides the second opinion on diagnosis, Guyanese can also access the other services offered by CCRI via email: [email protected] or telephone +18684994903. “It’s not just in the cases of rare forms of cancers that a second opinion can be useful. “It is always good to seek a second opinion or get advice on treatment especially in instances when you are not sure of what obtains after a diagnosis is made,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, CCRI‘s co-founder, Kimberly Badal explained that since its launch in 2016, CCRI has through innovative leadership, achieved several key milestones.
She noted that the NGO has won several local and international grants, set up the first cancer patient navigation (management) training programme for the Caribbean region, trained 42 persons in patient navigation from across the region, hosted several education and awareness sessions, managed over 100 public sector patients through their cancer journey, presented at several international conferences and created job opportunities for highly skilled persons.
She noted that the ultimate vision of CCRI is to establish innovative, internationally recognised, independent, and self-sustained cancer research institutes that will help alleviate the cancer burden across the Caribbean.
Further to this, Badal said that CCRI has two full-time and five part-time staff members in addition to seven volunteers.
Among the other key services, she said that CCRI assigns persons diagnosed with cancer, a cancer patient navigator who is responsible for providing personalised education, support and guidance to the patient and their family.
“Another essential service is our genetic testing and counseling for persons with a cancer family history. The test would help indicate whether they are carriers for high-risk mutations,” Badal explained.
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