The NDoH is seeking to improve and develop the Radiotherapy Centre in Lae Angau Memorial Hospital (AMH), and as it is a specialist facility it requires specialist cancer doctors trained on modern equipment and technologies, according to NDoH Secretary, Pascoe Kase.
“The Radiotherapy cancer facility in Lae has been there for many years. Dr John Niblett has worked with the facility over this time. After reviewing the future needs for cancer treatment and facilities in Lae, the NDOH has decided not to renew the contract of Dr Niblett. However, the public should not be misled into thinking that when Dr Niblett leaves that there will be no access to cancer treatment in the centre,” Kase said yesterday.
The current cancer specialist in charge at AMA, Dr Deepak Ghimire had been working with cancer patients in the facility for the past couple of years and would continue to lead the cancer treatment centre, he said adding that the NDoH has two new cancer specialists joining the hospital to expand the services currently available.
Kase said that a project developed in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was being implemented beginning this year to improve the facility and training of doctors and staff on new and modern equipment that would be purchased and brought to Lae through this partnership agreement.
“In addition, a new legislative and regulatory framework for radiation safety is being developed to provide an enabling environment in which cancer equipment and other needs for cancer can be easily implemented, unlike the situation now which is making it difficult to bring in new equipment and much needed cancer treatment infrastructure,” the secretary said.
According to Kase, a national policy on cancer was developed and approved by NEC in 2015, which gives the directions on how cancer should be improved overall, treatment alone will not reduce cancer incidence.
“The NDoH has reviewed the cancer treatment needs in the country and has taken the decision to delegate the management of the cancer treatment facility in Lae to Angau Hospital. This is in line with the cancer treatment across the country, where chemotherapy and surgery are provided for cancer patients in most public hospitals,” he said.
“The health department is very grateful for the contribution of Dr John Niblett in the radiotherapy department in Lae, and the help and comfort he has provided to many,” he said.
The secretary said that Dr Niblett’s outstanding entitlements have been processed by the health department and awaiting clearance from Finance Department, as well as an extension to his visa for a further two months to allow him to close out his practice.
“The NDoH will continue to treat cancer as a priority issue for the country and invest in equipment and facilities to provide for the best possible outcomes through screening, early detection, and treatment. Earlier this year the health department introduced a vaccine program to protect young girls from getting cervical cancer,” he said
It is hoped the Human Papilloma Virus or HPV vaccine will lower the risk of cancer within PNG, Kase said.