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Tracy Davidson-Celestine

Patients undergoing treatment at Tobago’s only cancer facility at the old Scarborough Hospital at Fort King George say they are fed up of being “treated like second class citizens,” a situation which has only worsened with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The patients say while they understand treating with the COVID-19 the situation is a major undertaking and in putting some strain on the healthcare system, they feel since the pandemic began less emphasis is being placed on patients with cancer.

“We have not had a solid tumour oncologist for many years. A radiation oncologist prepares our regiment,” a patient who prefers to remain anonymous told Tobago Today.

She said some patients have to travel to Trinidad to visit the solid tumour oncologist and those who can’t remain “disadvantaged.”

“Seeing a solid tumour specialist is a very important part of treatment for cancer. The authorities are taking our situation for granted. Most of us just remain ill or die when the situation can be different.”

Another patient said since the death of a haematologist from Trinidad, who visited Tobago twice per month, the Tobago House of Assembly has not replaced her.

“The haematologist was over 80 years. When she visited she was not able to see everyone because she was slow. We were very grateful for her help. We just need a replacement as no one with cancer of the blood is being properly treated in Tobago.”

Tobago House of Assembly’s Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis addressed the issue at this week’s virtual post-Executive Council media briefing.

He said he was aware of the situation and will hold further discussions with Health, Wellness, and Family Development Secretary Tracy Davidson-Celestine to see how they can bring some relief to patients.

“I have discussed the matter with the Secretary of Health … to ensure that we treat with treatment of those individuals in a timely manner going forward,” Dennis said.