Welfare for health

by Emmanuel Joseph

Dorothy Cooke-Johnson
Dorothy Cooke-Johnson

A worrying number of Barbadians are now demanding welfare in order to buy out-of-reach cancer treatment drugs that could save their lives.

In an exclusive interview this afternoon with Barbados TODAY, President of the Barbados Cancer Society, Dr. Dorothy Cooke-Johnson disclosed that childhood cancer, for example, was posing a major problem.

“We always have problems in relation to children. It’s either children who have cancer, children whose parents have cancer or children who have lost their mother or father to cancer; and the difficulty there is almost always economical,” lamented Dr. Cooke-Johnson.

She said the society would love to start a food bank for those children.

“[E]ach time a mom would come, or even a father, and their difficulty is that they can’t work, because of having the treatment and yet they still have young people to support… Usually it’s electricity, water, the rent that they need, the food that they need, school uniforms – the basics that other people might take for granted, they find it very hard to come by,” the doctor asserted.

She said that right now, the Cancer Society was in urgent need of assistance, “because we do have people coming to our welfare department on a daily basis, and their needs are often [at a] very low level, just survival in order to be able to get through”.

“Some of the medications are extremely expensive,” pointed out the head of the Cancer Society, “like Velcade, which can be $3,000 or $5,000 each; and might need a course, which is going to be $14,000 or $20,000 or $60,000.”

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