The Dominica-China Friendship Hospital (DCFH) has commissioned its High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU).
The machine was donated by the Chinese government at an estimated cost of US$2.5M and will be used to treat tumors- both benign tumors and certain malignant tumors, especially prostate cancer.
“Today is another historic moment in the continued development of hospital services in Dominica,” Minister for Health, Wellness and New Health Investment, Dr. Irving McIntyre said while addressing the commissioning ceremony on Thursday.
According to him, the government has made tremendous investment in upgrading the healthcare infrastructure over the past 5 years.
“Most of these new investments have seen the construction of new health and wellness facilities to strengthen our resolve, to improve the delivery of primary care and in particular, the practical applications of the principles of health investment,” he stated.
Dr. McIntyre explained that the capacity of the machine will exceed that of the needs of the population, “but citizens must feel a measure of comfort that they can receive treatment right here at home for treatment that otherwise would have been obtained in the US and elsewhere.”
He said there are no other HIFU facilities in the OECS or even in the rest of CARICOM countries and added, “I am told that the closest such facility is in Mexico.”
The Health Minister also revealed that over the next 4 to 5 weeks there will be a number of related developments to improve the transformation and delivery of hospital services.
The then Minister for Health, Dr. Kenneth Darroux first announced in May 2019 that a HIFU machine had been sourced for the DCFH while he was visiting the hospital to have a first-hand view of the machine,
Meanwhile, Dr. McIntyre revealed that the government will be officially commissioning the new home for eye care to be named the Brenda Strafford Foundation Eye Centre at the DCFH on May 12th to 13th.
He said the sum of $450,000 was provided by the foundation to purchase major pieces of eye equipment to modernize the eye department at the country’s main hospital.
Dr. McIntyre said surgeries will commence on May 1st, 2022.
He said he will also be making a pronouncement shortly on the regulations governing admitting privileges at the DCFH.
“These regulations will permit surgeons in the private sector and beyond, to have access to the use of the operating theaters at the Dominica-China Friendship Hospital,” he stated. “This is an approach to expand operating theater time to the private sector.”
It is anticipated that this development will keep healthcare costs at affordable levels and bring to full capacity, the latent capacity within the public sector hospital, according to Dr. McIntyre.
“We commissioned our MRI service late last year; patients are currently receiving scans free of cost for now, but will be required to pay a reporting fee of EC$100,” he disclosed.
The Minister said work on the completion of the in-patient buildings is at an advanced stage and commissioning is expected to take place on or before the end of June 2022.