Give them priority

Minister of Health, John Boyce sharing the lectern with President of the Hope Foundation, Shelly Weir.
Minister of Health, John Boyce sharing the lectern with President of the Hope Foundation, Shelly Weir.

Minister of Health John Boyce is recommending that priority treatment be given to sickle cell patients attending the Accident & Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Addressing a ceremony this morning to mark World Sickle Cell Day today, at the Amaryllis Hotel in, Hastings, Christ Church, Boyce urged that the same treatment afforded asthma patients, must be given to sickle cell ones as well. “The Ministry of Health will … continue to ensure that a wide range of oral and other types of medication were made available to all patients.”

The minister said that, as a result, the Hope Foundation has been instrumental in supporting the concept of a medical day unit, that can provide step down emergency care for persons experiencing acute pain.

“When fully operational, this unit will provide pain management, chemotherapy facilities and other clinical sub-acute interventions that would otherwise be provided by the Accident & Emergency Department and the medical wards,” he added.

Boyce said his ministry would work through the Pain Management Committee to render solutions to persons with acute and chronic pain, including those with sickle cell anemia. He noted that the Pain Management Committee was a multidisciplinary management body with a mandate to develop policies, provide education and guide good clinical practice

as it relates to pain management. “These interventions will be extended to persons with terminal cancer, chronic non- communicable disease and other chronic degenerative disorders,” promised the minister.

He said that to date, much interest had been generated throughout the Barbadian Diaspora with respect to providing hospice care for persons with chronic pain, terminal and degenerative disorders.

“I am happy to report that several thousand dollars have been raised in support of this cause,” he revealed.

Boyce added that even though sickle cell and systemic lupus were not categorised as chronic non-communicable diseases by international definition, specific emphasis must still be placed on these “unusual” illnesses, especially those with genetic and hereditary components.

“I encourage therefore support for the proposal led Dr Cheryl Alexis (haemotologist) that allows for the introduction of targeted screening of newborns for sickle cell disease. It has been recognised that neo-natal screening can significantly decrease morbidity and mortality and improve life expectancy of persons with sickle cell disease,” Boyce asserted.

This, he added, could be achieved through early preventive and aggressive treatment. Infants with sickle cell disease will be offered the appropriate intensive follow-up and treatment, including vaccination. (EJ)

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