Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Project aims to reduce cancer deaths in Caribbean

Foundation to address gaps in eduction, research and care

  • Print

TORONTO -- The SickKids Foundation in Toronto is launching a project aimed at improving the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and serious blood disorders in children living in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean-SickKids Paediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Project will help train health professionals, provide consultation and diagnostic expertise and expand access to treatment and supportive care for children in six countries.

The countries involved in the project are the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, the Hospital for Sick Children's foundation announced Thursday.

"If a child is born with leukemia in Canada, it is believed they have between an 80 to 90 per cent chance of surviving the disease," Dr. Upton Allen, head of infectious diseases at SickKids and co-director of the program, said in a statement.

"If that same child is born in Kingston, Jamaica, they have about a 50 per cent survival rate, and if that child is diagnosed in any of the other Caribbean countries, they have less than a 50 per cent chance of surviving the disease.

"The inequality between outcomes for children with cancer and serious blood disorders in the Caribbean compared to those in Canada is heartbreaking. Together, we can help change that."

In the Caribbean, there are few medical practitioners with specialized training in children's cancers, limited technological resources to aid diagnosis and a dearth of nurses and pharmacists able to provide specialized care.

The project, which will partner with local hospitals in the Caribbean, includes a five-year plan for addressing gaps in research, care and education.

Until recently, Jamaica did not have a single resident pediatric oncologist among its population of more than 2.8 million people. Last May, Dr. Michelle Reece-Mills, who was trained at SickKids, returned home to Jamaica as the country's first and only doctor specializing in childhood cancer.

Reece-Mills said she will never forget a patient she treated in the second year of her residency at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Jamaica. A young girl was transferred from the Bahamas and immediately treated with chemotherapy, but she died within a week.

"This patient really touched me, and I remember wishing there was something else we could have done in this situation," Reece-Mills said. "We often don't have the resources in the Caribbean to treat these cases."

Hematologist Dr. Victor Blanchette, a native of Barbados who will helm the project with Allen, said children in the Caribbean often succumb to cancer because the proper diagnostics and treatments are not available.

Elements of the five-year plan include using TeleMedicine, physician envoys and hands-on training through the hospital's international educational program. To date, seven trainees from Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago have spent time at SickKids.

The foundation has a goal of raising $8 million in donations to cover the next five years of the program.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 15, 2013 A21

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Trouba talks about injury and potential for Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Aerial view of Portage and Main, The Esplanade Riel, Provencher Bridge over the Red River, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and The Forks near the Assiniboine River, October 21st, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) CMHR
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100527-Winnipeg Free Press THe Provencher Foot Bridge is lit up

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google