Daniel’s remarks on the issue were delivered at the Alexandra Hospital Conference Room recently with health professionals including head of a newly established Cancer Treatment Centre in Antigua, Oncologist Specialist Dr. Arthur Porter and Chief Medical Officer in the Federation Dr. Patrick Martin. He indicated that the NIA continued to deal with patients who sought medical care for cancer further away in the United States, Trinidad, Barbados and Cuba.
“If it is nearer to our shores with the same kind of services, we welcome that. We welcome that worry in the sense that based on information provided, it appears as though there is going to be a lot of work for that cancer treatment center to do.
“What I would hope is that we can begin to now redouble our efforts towards prevention, treatment, care and support so that it would not require so many people rush off to the center,” he said.
The Health Minister pointed to the instances of cancer in Nevis for 2010 and described it as a worrying trend. He said in a population of 12-13,000 people 24 new cases in one year represented a real crisis and a matter he had brought to the attention of his Cabinet Colleagues.
Mr. Daniel said a look at some of the risk factors [low levels of physical activity, low consumption of fruits and vegetables, four or more alcoholic beverages a day] which predisposed one to cancer, suggested for Nevis that there was absolute need for behaviour change and towards the propensity to consume fruits and vegetables and to exercise.
He said in a modern society where there was technology which made information readily available, it was reprehensible that citizens were not acting on it.
“What we need now… is for a paradigm shift and new behaviour because it means (a) that we will be losing more people with their full contribution to the economic and social development of the country and (b) increasing the burden of health care and all of this can be prevented if all citizens act on the information,” he said.
The Health Minister said the NIA had continued to provide information through the Health Promotion and the Health Education Units and continued its campaign of locally produced fruit and vegetable consumption but believed the time had come for the need to make good food cheap and bad foods expensive. Therefore, the Ministry of Trade and Industry would have to work closely with the Ministry of Health to address the matter of fruits and vegetable consumption on Nevis.
(Parts of this article were written with content submitted in a NIA press release)