Until recently, Jamaica did not have a single resident fully trained paediatric oncologist among its population of more than 2.8 million. Last May, Dr. Michelle Reece-Mills, who was trained at SickKids, returned home to Jamaica as the country's first and only fully trained physician specializing exclusively in children's cancer and blood disorders. The lack of trained medical professionals and access to care for children in her country diagnosed with cancer is what inspired Dr. Reece-Mills to complete her training at SickKids. She continues to work jointly with world-renowned SickKids experts, learning how to treat the full spectrum of paediatric cancers.
Dr. Reece-Mills 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 administered chemotherapy, and sadly, the girl died within a week of arriving at the hospital.
"This patient really touched me, and I remember wishing there was something else we could have done in this situation. We often don't have the resources in the Caribbean to treat these cases," says Dr. Reece-Mills. "I'm very excited to be a part of this SickKids Project because it will help provide more effective treatment for kids with cancer in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean. For Jamaica's population, we need at least six or seven paediatric oncologists. I'm starting to see more interest in paediatric oncology from our residents and we hope to have more doctors involved in this Project."
"Too often, children in the Caribbean succumb to cancer because the proper diagnostics and treatments are not available. Our goal is to ensure more children are able to survive their diagnosis, be cured, and lead healthy, productive lives," says Dr. Victor Blanchette, haematologist, SickKids. "This Project will help build capacity in the Caribbean to deal with the fundamental challenges of paediatric cancer and serious blood disorders and will immediately improve the outlook and outcome for children living in all of the partner countries."
Elements of the five-year plan include using TeleMedicine, physician envoys, and the SickKids International Learner Programme to provide customized, hands-on training to local individuals, establishing and maintaining a patient registry to provide high-quality data and key outcomes, and increasing the knowledge of primary care practitioners and pharmacists in the region to improve cancer care access. Trainees will also travel from the Caribbean to SickKids on a regular basis for hands-on training and experience within the Garron Family Cancer Centre at SickKids. To date, seven trainees from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados have been to SickKids.
For more information on the Caribbean-SickKids Paediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Project, please visit www.sickkidsfoundation.com/caribbean. To watch a video about the Project, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvntNAnvuSY.
About SickKids Foundation
Established in 1972, SickKids Foundation raises funds on behalf of The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and is the largest charitable funder of child health research, learning and care in Canada. Philanthropy is a critical source of funding for SickKids -- one of the world's foremost paediatric health-care institutions. For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, SickKids Foundation made an investment of $61.3 million in children's health, a direct result of community and corporate support. For more information, please visit www.sickkidsfoundation.com.
To view the photo associated with this press release, please visit the following link: http://www.marketwire.com/library/20130214-SKFimage1LG.jpg.
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