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Demand for chemo in poorer countries to spike by 75 per cent

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WITH the number of people diagnosed with cancer expected to balloon in coming years, one of the nation’s leading surgeons and university professors is urging his colleagues and the Government to address current barriers to cancer care delivery.

In a sit-down with the Jamaica Observer editors and reporters last week to discuss Jamaica Cancer Society’s upcoming Relay for Life fundraiser, Professor Joseph Plummer cited a May 8 article published by The Lancet Oncology online, which says that by 2040, “there is projected a 75 per cent increase in the need for chemotherapy in low- and middle-income countries”.

“That’s exactly where Jamaica falls,” said Plummer, who is head of the Department of Surgery, Radiology, Anaesthesia, and Intensive Care at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in St Andrew.

“It reflects both the increasing incidence of the disease and the fact that still, in these [low- and middle-income] countries, the majority of patients are advanced at the time of their diagnosis,” the surgeon said.

The study, as reported by Medscape Medical News, warns that almost all countries will face serious problems in their ability to deliver chemotherapy to cancer patients by the year 2040.

Medscape said the study predicts that the demand for chemotherapy will double by 2040, estimating that the number of patients who will require first-line chemotherapy will increase from 9.8 million in 2018 to 15 million in 2040. The largest proportion of those patients, Medscape said, will be residing in upper-middle-income countries, but of the remainder, an “estimated 75 per cent… will be living in low- and middle-income countries”.

Professor Plummer explained that in Jamaica, the incidence of cancer is increasing, and for the common ones — breast, cervical, prostate, and colorectal — at least 60 per cent of patients are locally advanced or metastatic at the time of their diagnosis.

“So either they are incurable or they need relatively expensive chemotherapy to prolong life,” he said, indicating that at the advanced state, options like surgery alone or radiotherapy alone are insufficent as oftentimes these patients need a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy in an attempt to cure them.

Professor Plummer also pointed out that since chemotherapy drugs are not produced locally, increasing their accesibility would require a larger outlay of already scarce foreign exchange.

“Given the projected increase… we need to be looking forward and planning, therefore, for an increase in the number of medical oncologists in Jamaica.

“I know right now, for example, between Cornwall Regional [Hospital] and Kingston, that is KPH (Kingston Public Hospital), and University Hospital [of the West Indies], there is no other Government-sanctioned place to get chemotherapy. [At] Mandeville [Regional Hospital], there is a visiting oncologist, but we need to have more formal services in those hospitals, because that’s what will cause death…” the surgeon said.

He also highlighted the work of Jamaica Reach to Recovery, an affiliate of the Jamaica Cancer Society that offers financial, psychological, and emotional support to breast cancer survivors, and called for similar groups to be set up in light of the projections.

“One of the things we don’t do well are the support groups. So we have Jamaica Reach to Recovery, but someone who has bleeding and is worried that they may have to get a stoma bag, that is going to prevent them from ever going for a colonoscopy even when they have bleeding.

“Or a man who, just being fearful of the implications of a prostate examination, [saying] ‘I’m going to lose my potency’, without being aware that 80 per cent or more of men who have a radical prostatectomy will be potent, and those who are not, periodic use of medication and other means can help them to maintain some level of sexual activity,” he said, reiterating that the hope supportive programmes provide is necessary, but is currently lacking.

Dr Plummer was quick to point out, however, that the importance of prevention cannot be overemphasised because the country’s attitude should really be, ‘Let’s not reach the 2040 projections’. For this to happen, Professor Plummer said general education and preventative programmes are crucial.

“There is a lot to be said about societies like the Jamaica Cancer Society in terms of sensitising the public. [They are] educating the public in being aware of themselves so that they are aware of the early [symptons] of the disease, because a lot of times the disease doesn’t give early clinical features [and] the need for screening, even in the asymptomatic phase,” he said.

In the meantime, he lauded the Government for setting up two radiation oncologist centres in the island, one at St Joseph’s Hospital in Kingston and the other at Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James. He said it is increasingly being recognised that radiation alone, as a form of treatment, can cure about 20 per cent of cancers.

The 16th annual Relay for Life is scheduled for June 2-3 on the University of Technology, Jamaica campus.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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I don’t want to sit and beg

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Thirty-six-year-old amputee, David Daley, is determined to support his family and himself despite having to live with one leg.

“Cause, I tell myself, I don’t want to sit and beg,” he told The Jamaica Observer Central.

Daley who was born in Newell, St Elizabeth, came under scrutiny when family members saw from early that one foot was longer than the other. Another abnormality was that his right foot had four toes.

Alarm further set in, when doctors informed Daley’s family that if he continued to walk using both feet, he would eventually suffer adverse effects on his spine.

He spent time receiving treatment at the Mona Rehabilitation Centre in Kingston from he was nine years old and then the heart-breaking decision was taken to remove his right foot.

Daley was then given a prosthesis (artificial leg) but in time he found the artificial limb unbearably uncomfortable, so he stopped using it.

The way Daley tells it, one day he became inspired to ride a bicycle when he saw a one-legged man selling newspapers while riding.

For 22 years since then, Daley has been riding a bicycle, finding it useful in performing a variety of tasks.

Daley drew on his strength and that of family members and started to transport children to school on his bicycle. This began when his mother asked him to take his younger brother to school and neighbours who saw him assisting his brother asked if he could take their children to school as well, and Daley responded by becoming a well-needed mode of transport; a task he did for 14 years.

He then moved on to transporting cooking gas, eggs, and other items on his bicycle for community members.

That was not all for Daley as he has also tried his hand at car washing, electrical work, welding, raising goats and chickens, selling eggs, construction, making and selling items such as peanut drops and peanut cakes.

Some of these jobs, he is still doing to take care of his family, says Daley, who currently lives in Northampton, St Elizabeth, with his wife, Monique and two-year-old daughter Zonnique.

He freely admits that coping with just one leg isn’t easy.

“A lot of people see me riding on one foot and think it’s easy, but it wasn’t easy. Is not something like if yu foot cut off today, you can jump on a bicycle tomorrow. No, it takes a whole lot,” Daley shared with this publication.

He also recognises that his life can be an example for others who have to deal with severe adversity.

“Whatsoever you are doing you got to come from deep within,” he told Observer Central. “You got to make up your mind that I’m gonna do this… and don’t mek nobody stop you, don’t look at yourself like, ‘hey this happened to me, it’s the end of the world’. No, it’s not the end of the world. We can all rise up,” Daley said.

He is also challenging able-bodied persons to do better in life.

“You can get up and do something. There’s so much that you can do. I meet people who come to me even begging me money and saying ‘nothing nah gwaan’. Come on, nuttin nah gwaan if you sit down every day an’ say nuttin nah gwaan. Get up and do something, seek, go out and reach out and somebody will help you. You will get a work from somebody. You affi mek something gwaan because if I did tell myself that, where would I be?”

Nathalie Jordon, a business owner in Goshen, St Elizabeth supports Daley by being a regular customer, buying eggs from him.

“He’s a really hard-working person,” said Jordan. “He is dedicated to trying to make something for himself. He’s coming from a humble background and him just tell himself say him nah go out deh go do no wrong. Him ah go work hard and do something. So me kinda really proud of where he’s coming from and his achievements and he’s still trying to go,” she added.

Daley says an abiding wish is to be able to do things that will motivate people. He enjoys sitting with other people with disabilities and trying to help them lift their self-esteem.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Early Stimulation Programme helping little ones

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Early Stimulation Programme helping little ones

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Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson (right) presents Dandre Simpson with a backpack and certificate at the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) transitional exercise, held at Apostolic Church of Jamaica Bethel Temple, Kingston Gardens, last week. The ESP is an early intervention programme for young children (0-6 years) with various types of developmental disabilities. A total of 60 students graduated from the ESP, 50 of whom will be matriculating to primary special education and 10 students to the regular school system. (Photos: JIS)

Photo 2 – Minister of Labour and Social Security, Shahine Robinson (right) interacts with students at the Early Stimulation Programme transitional exercise, last week.

Photo 3 – Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson (left) presents Talique Coulson with a backpack at the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) transitional exercise last week.


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A boost for Mandeville Regional’s ENT department

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The recent donation of a surgical microscope to the Mandeville Regional Hospital has greatly enhanced the institution’s capacity to deal with ear, nose and throat (ENT) cases, medical experts say.

The surgical microscope, worth $3.1 million, was recently handed over to the hospital by the charity group, Manchester Wellness Foundation, according to a news release.

Acting CEO at Mandeville Regional, Marcia Francis, told those at the presentation ceremony that while the hospital’s ENT department performed 317 surgical procedures in 2018, it will now be able to do many more.

“The hospital could have facilitated more surgical procedures, however, the absence of the surgical microscope made it impossible. With this robust, compact and flexible microscope, the hospital’s ENT team will be able to perform additional procedures with compassion, in an accountable, respectful, and efficient manner,” Francis said.

Consultant at the hospital’s ENT department, Dr Andrew Manning, said the microscope will be particularly helpful in treating the condition serous otitis media with effusion, commonly known as “glue ears”, which affects learning.

“This condition is fluid behind the eardrum and if not addressed before age four, children would have missed out on most of what they would learn in life. Normally we would have to refer children to the Bustamante Hospital for Children, but now we are able to address these cases,” Manning said.

Chairman of the Manchester Wellness Foundation and acting regional director of the Southern Regional Health Authority, Herschel Ismail, pointed out that the foundation adopted the ENT department three years ago and to date has donated equipment and instruments valued at more than $6 million.

Since the establishment of the Manchester Wellness Foundation in 2003, the foundation has raised and disbursed more than $17.6 million to health facilities in Manchester through two major fund-raising events — a run walk and a vintage party — the news release said.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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