Last Friday, it was reported that Ferguson, the recently installed health minister, said that after consultations with the chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority, Tanny Shirley; chief medical officer, Dr Eva Lewis-Fuller; permanent secretary in the ministry, Dr Jean Dixon; and the sole physicist employed to the Government, along with a number of other persons early last week, the decision was taken to seek private care for the cancer patients.
However, chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), Tanny Shirley, who also thinks there is no conflict of interest in the engagement of the ROCJ, shed some light on the nature of the advice Miller would have given to the minister of health.
advised us that the risk of using that (KPH cobalt) equipment now is endangering possibly the lives (of the patients) because it needs to be repaired," Shirley
also supported using the services of ROCJ
on economic grounds.
"The new machines coming out are no longer linear and cost US$10 million.
If this company (ROCJ) is not supported, where are they going to get the financial support to get to another level that you and I who can afford in Jamaica?
, adding that this type of technology changes rapidly.
Overseas options would have proven too costly, Shirley
continued in his
defence of the engagement of ROCJ
"Overseas companies would have been three to 10 times higher.
In the past, particularly with children, where we try to send them abroad, we could be looking at bills of US$300,000 sometimes, plus accommodation … ."
At $28 million for 55 patients, the Government would pay little over $509,000 per patient.
later told our news team that the Government might be able to negotiate the cost down to $9 million.
gave what appeared to be a contradiction.
"The oncology centre in Jamaica is the cheapest cost to treat cancer right now than anywhere in the world."
also explained that the cobalt equipment used by the Government in its two treatment facilities are not best suited to treat certain types of cancers and that is why patients are from time to time referred to the ROCJ
"The cobalt is an old system designed primarily to deal with soft-tissue cancer.
Not really a system that is the modern way of treating cancer.
It is better for surface cancer but when it goes deeper and legions are deeper, you need a linear accelerator system," he
uses a linear accelerator system.
lamented that the Government doesn't have the approximately US$4 million to purchase one of those systems.
Efforts to make contact with Minister of Health Fenton Ferguson failed.
did not return our calls.