Almost a billion dollars was yesterday approved by Cabinet’s Finance and General Purposes Committee for the National Oncology Centre (NOC) in Mount Hope.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said that as expected the funds were approved.
Khan had said that the construction of the NOC will cost some $443 million but yesterday he added that costs for equipment and consultancy had brought the entire project to some $891 million.
He said Cabinet approval is expected to be given later this week.
Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society (TTCS), Jacqueline Pereira Sabga, yesterday welcomed the renewed pledge from the minister to deliver the long overdue NOC in 18 months.
“I am so very hopeful that it will come to fruition. It is imperative for the people of this country. I hope that they (the government) are steadfast in this determination toward its completion and not just using it as a political ploy,” she stated in an e-mail to the Express.
Khan, speaking to the Express by phone yesterday, said he had no time for political ploys, stressing that he has been working “like a dog” over the past couple years to ensure that work is started on the NOC.
“The Oncology Centre will be delivered. We have gotten the approvals, we have the contractor, everything is on board. ... I don’t play politics where the health of the people of this country is concerned,” said Khan.
He said there has been an increase in the number of cancer cases over the years because of better diagnosis and therefore people are able to start treatments at an early stage,
The Express yesterday obtained the latest data from the Elizabeth Quamina Cancer Registry for the number of cancer cases and deaths over the period 2003- 2007.
The Registry collects and publishes data on cancer within Trinidad and Tobago.
The top ten cancers are prostate, breast, colon and rectum, bronchus and lung, cervix uteri, uterus, leukemia, pancreas, ovary and stomach. A large number of people also fell under the category of “other and unknown” cancers.
There was a total of 10,862 cases in the above categories between 2003 to 2007 affecting 5,495 males and 5,357 females.
Breast cancer in women (1,770 cases) and prostate cancer in men (2,198 cases) were the two leading cancers.
From 2003 to 2007 there were 6,648 cases of death from cancer. Of this figure, 3,656 were males and 2,992 were females.
The NOC was a plan that originated under the People’s National Movement (PNM) government. It was initially promised to be delivered in 2004.