FORMER health minister Dr Fuad Khan has described the decision to build a linear accelerator (LINAC) cancer treatment facility in St James as a “backward step,” saying government should have moved to complete the national oncology centre at the Mount Hope Medical Sciences Complex.
Speaking at the sod-turning ceremony on Sunday, Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh said the machine would benefit the population by offering more targeted treatment for some tumours.
A linear accelerator (LINAC) customises high-energy x-rays or electrons to conform to a tumour’s shape and destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding normal tissue.
In a telephone interview, Khan said putting an $84 million linear accelerator alone at St James is a “rubbish idea,” as the oncology centre was supposed to have two linear accelerators, a cyberknife, ultrasound facilities and a PET-CT Scanner.
“The best thing would have been to complete the oncology centre, because that would have definitely brought about foreign exchange by people having to come to TT, as this would have been the only one of its kind in the Caribbean,” he said. “Now we were going to put the linear accelerator by the cobalt machine without building anything. So now they are building a whole complex to put in a linear accelerator.”
Khan said this was further evidence that the ruling party lacked “innovative thinking” and did not seem to realise that one could “make money by putting out money.”
“They look and say they can’t afford it, but they are not looking at the big picture, which is the long-term picture, where you can bring in a lot of foreign exchange if you had built the oncology centre together with giving our people in the Caribbean a proper state-of-the-art cancer centre equivalent and on par with those in the United States.”