CANCER is an unkind disease that knows no boundaries and does not select who to attack.
It can bring one down fast when it attacks.
Over time, the cancer pattern in Papua New Guinea has turned into a marathon – a race against time, cancer stage, acceptance, age and proper treatment.
Virtually everyone knows someone who has been affected by the disease.
Only those who have lost a loved one to cancer know how a patient’s battle in hope of defeating that dreaded enemy and it is often a long one.
The process is painful, depressing and heartbreaking for everyone involved.
Many Papua New Guineans would easily identify with this scenario because they have had the same feeling of helplessness in seeing a loved one die of cancer.
Many more would have a story to tell of a friend, colleague or neighbour who had succumbed to the ailment.
It is not a good feeling to see a loved one waste away and die a slow and agonising death.
The feeling is made even worse when your doctors tell you that he or she would have saved a life if drug x or equipment y were available.
Treatment is expensive.
There is no proper facility in the country to treat cancer and treatment overseas is the only option.
Those who could and can afford overseas treatment go while for others, it was watching helplessly with time ticking.
But this will change soon.
Prime Minister James Marape last week presented K10 million to Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) to support the completion of works for the world-class cancer centre. The funding boost by Kumul Petroleum Holdings Ltd will assist with the smooth flow and completion of the cancer centre structural works after construction had stalled early this year due to lack of funds.
The scope of work for completion of the construction includes the roof; upper floor; roof over the bunker; and plant room and walls on both ground and first floors.
Marape, when making the presentation, stressed that PMGH was a hospital for the whole country and not only for Port Moresby.
The centre will have the latest cancer machine on the market, which is one of the latest linear accelerator called halcyon to provide radiotherapy.
It will also have a 15-bed medical oncology and will include chemotherapy and a comprehensive nuclear/molecular department and a PET and nuclear medicine.
The new modern facility will provide the ability to diagnose and treat cancer using modern therapeutic solutions and at the same time monitor the effectiveness of the treatment all at one location.
The entire cancer facility was designed to meet international standards to provide modern cancer services to the people of PNG.
Once opened, there would be no more need for Papua New Guineans to travel overseas with world-class cancer and heart facilities at PMGH.
But we should all not lose focus that there is a key element over which you do have an advantage, and that is early detection.
While we embrace this news, let us take a moment to think about those who have lost their battle because of the lack of facilities.
News on cancer in the country has always been grim, but with the new facility we can expect some relief.
THe National / PNG Health Watch
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