NASSAU, The Bahamas — The new, state-of-the-art Oncology Centre at the Princess Margaret Hospital opened Thursday amidst great expectations for the future diagnosis, management, treatment and care of cancer patients in The Bahamas.


The Centre is part of the Government of The Bahamas’ comprehensive cancer programme that is expected to deliver efficient, efficacious and cost-effective care to persons residing in The Bahamas in their time of greatest need.


Addressing government officials, healthcare administrators and providers, cancer awareness groups and survivors and members of the general public during the commissioning ceremony of the Oncology Centre, Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis said the Centre will also provide a higher level of service to Bahamians afflicted with what he termed “a potentially curable disease.”


The Health Minister said the Centre will allow healthcare providers and managers to advance the diagnosis, management, treatment and care of cancers in The Bahamas, including breast cancer.


“Statistics show that between 90-100 women are being diagnosed with breast cancer on an annual basis with 10-20 of those persons dying as a result of complications associated with cancer,” Dr. Minnis said.


“As a multi-faceted Cancer Treatment Centre, the Princess Margaret Hospital’s Oncology Centre offers an array of treatments that are designed to meet the various needs of our patients.”


Dr. Minnis said one of the challenges facing the health care system of The Bahamas in the management, diagnosis, treatment and care of cancer is the high cost of treatment. He said that as a result of the escalating costs of treatment, the Government of The Bahamas is committed to the renovation and expansion of the former BAHAI Building to house the new facilities which he said are designed to meet the current and projected demands for cancer patients.


Dr. Minnis said the high rate of morbidity and mortality in cancer sufferers is due in large part to late diagnosis; owing to a lack of knowledge of the disease among Bahamians and the resulting lateness or absence of curative therapy. He said in recognition of this, several non-governmental and non-profit organizations such as the Cancer Society of The Bahamas, the Sister-Sister Group and the Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative, joined forces with the Ministry of Health and play leading roles in raising the awareness of cancer within The Bahamas.


Dr. Minnis said that as “knowledge is the key to the prevention and treatment of cancers,” a Cancer Registry was established as a “basic ingredient” in the implementation of the comprehensive cancer programme.


“The Cancer Registry should provide the Government of The Bahamas with better statistical information to facilitate planning, epidemiological analysis and better patient care and follow up,” Dr. Minnis added.