PAHO delivers cancer-screening machine to MoH, while resident asks about hyperbaric chamber donated by Ayre


The Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre is now equipped with one more tool to assist with the early detection of cancer, according to this week’s report from the Executive.

According to Cabinet Notes published today, March 16, Sir Molwyn Joseph, the minister of health, reported that representatives of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) had met with ministry officials and handed over a diagnostic machine used for cancer screening.

The donation has prompted one resident’s recollection of a gift, made in February 2018, by business mogul Calvin Ayre.

At that time, the then-named Mount St. John Medical Centre received a hyperbaric chamber, intended to treat decompression sickness – commonly known as “the bends” – following the death of an affected diver, Andy Samuel, the year before.

However, less than two weeks ago, a 53-year-old fisherman from Old Road was evacuated to Guadeloupe – via Ayre’s helicopter company – for treatment of this very condition.

Consequently, the resident is asking what has become of the equipment Ayre donated five years ago – whether it is in need of service, or out of commission entirely after having exhausted its use.

In accepting the donation, in 2018, MP Joseph expressed the hope that the medical centre, “in a fairly short time,” would be on its way to “being a First-World health institution in the Caribbean.”

However, last month, February 2023, Cabinet reported that the hospital’s central air-conditioning system had stopped working, putting a halt to all surgeries – except emergency operations.

The Executive also reported that the specially created floor cover of the hospital – which came into service in 2009 – had deteriorated and needed to be upgraded.

Interestingly, during this week’s Budget Debate, Barbuda MP Trevor Walker asked Sir Molwyn about the status of equipment the Ministry of Health had acquired during the Ebola epidemic of 2014.

Ministry sources said, subsequently, that Joseph had been advised not to purchase the equipment, which reportedly was meant to detect high temperatures in travelers arriving at the V.C. Bird International Airport.

The machine – reported to have cost the Medical Benefits Scheme US$20,000 – was never installed, and – years later – was said to be still wrapped in plastic and stored in the ministry’s conference room.

Advertise with the mоѕt vіѕіtеd nеwѕ ѕіtе іn Antigua!
We offer fully customizable and flexible digital marketing packages.
Contact us at [email protected]