Regional health leaders and government officials were expected to gather in Antigua Thursday, April 26, for the official ground-breaking ceremony for the Eastern Caribbean’s first cancer center.
An Antigua and Barbuda government statement said the center, brainchild of Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, is a joint venture between Global Health Partners, Ltd., the governments of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the MEI Healthcare Corporation.
In 2009, during a regional symposium on services in Antigua, Spencer expressed the desire for a state-of-art cancer centre to serve the islands of the OECS, with high quality medical, radiation and surgical oncology services, markedly discounted for government-supported patients.
The center will enhance cancer services at government hospitals in the region by hosting regular oncology clinics, developing cost-effective and safe chemotherapy services, providing oversight and expertise in the various islands, thereby providing major cost-saving advantages for partner governments, Spencer said.
He said the government of Antigua and Barbuda will play a “regulatory role in the construction and management of the facility and also provide a safety net for the less fortunate who are required to utilize the services of the facility.”
Dr. Conville Brown, director of The Cancer Centre Eastern Caribbean and a member of the management team of Global Health Partners, said the model of “partnered care” with an element of government ownership, “may well be utilized in several other areas of medicine, and in other industries, such as agriculture and fisheries for moving the region forward.”
The estimated EC$13.5 million cancer center “will feature equipment similar to The Cancer Centre Bahamas, Varian’s Unique Linear Accelerator, and will be capable of intensity-modulated radiation therapy and image-guided radiation therapy,” the statement said.
The board of directors of The Cancer Centre Eastern Caribbean is chaired by Sierra Leone-born Dr. Arthur Porter, professor of medicine and oncology. Former superintendent of the Antigua and Barbuda Medical Benefits Scheme, Cothrille George, is deputy chairman of the board, the statement said.