Health & Wellbeing
JM | Jul 2, 2022

UHWI reopens nuclear medicine division

/ Our Today

administrator
A single-photon emission computed tomography machine – SPECT-CT. (Photo: Good Friday Appeal)

The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) has reopened its Nuclear Medicine Division, which has been retrofitted with state-of-the-art single-photon emission computed tomography – SPECT-computed tomography (CT).

This will provide critical and advanced diagnostic capabilities for a range of disorders. SPECT-CT scan provides true 3D information to analyse the functions of internal organs for early diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as cardiac problems and cancer.

It can diagnose and track the progression of cancer that has spread to the bones and other affected areas of the body. The facility was re-established through the collaborative efforts of the UHWI, Ministry of Health and Wellness, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Greater emphasis on breast cancer treatment

UHWI Medical Chief of Staff, Dr Carl Bruce says the hospital is placing greater focus on the treatment of breast cancer and the SPECT-CT scan will advance capacity in this area.

“The technology has now moved us forward in the services that we can provide as a university and in the delivery of teaching and education in this area of disease treatment and prevention,” Bruce explains.

Dr Carl Bruce, chief of staff at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in St Andrew, Jamaica. (Photo: UWItv.org)

Addressing the opening ceremony last Thursday (June 30), Hua Liu, deputy IAEA director-general and head of the department of technical cooperation, commended the multi-agency collaboration, which he said will provide critical support for the Jamaican health sector.

”Nuclear medicine and diagnostic imaging offer great benefit in enabling early and accurate detection of disease and contribute to the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs),” he noted.

Liu added that the IAEA technical cooperation programme supports Jamaica’s efforts to address NCDs through the provision of large nuclear imaging equipment, SPECT-CT gamma camera, together with radiopharmacy (nuclear pharmacy), and quality control equipment.

He disclosed that the IAEA will also be providing long-term training to essential staff to ensure safe and effective operations at the centre.

According to him, “through the IAEA Rays of Hope initiative, we will continue to support the expansion of radiation medicine capacities in Jamaica in diagnostic treatment, including support for the development and training of the national cancer-care workforce.”

Hua Liu, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation, at the ZODIAC National Coordinator (ZNC) Europe Introductory Regional Meeting held at the Agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria on March 26, 2021. (Photo: Dean Calma for Wikimedia Commons)

Improve the diagnosis of NCDs

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who also addressed the opening, highlighted that the Nuclear Medicine Division will play an important role in the provision of modern health services for Jamaicans saying it will improve the diagnosis and management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cancers and cardiac diseases.

“This facility has been equipped to provide SPECT-CT studies of the most frequent nuclear medicine investigations and specifically aims to support oncological and cardiological studies to look at frequent pathologies in Jamaica,” the prime minister pointed out.

“The service will now be available locally within the public healthcare system, and this means that patients will be able to get this up-to-date modern service at a fraction of the cost when compared to that offered overseas. This facility will benefit our citizens and those in the wider Caribbean,” he emphasised. 

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