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Health Ministry slams NFP's claim on care of cancer patients

July 26, 2017 6:05 pm

The Health Ministry has slammed a recent statement by NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad for making reference to an alleged incident concerning the care offered to cancer patients at a health facility.

Permanent Secretary Philip Davies says the ministry is committed to provide sensitive care to patients who are terminally ill including those with cancer.

Earlier this week, Professor Prasad claimed that cancer patients in the last days of their lives are left to die in hospitals or family members are being forced to take them home and provide care at their own expense adding this is unacceptable and inhumane.

He also claimed there was no morphine, the common painkiller, to provide them relief.

In a statement Davies says Prasad’s statement didn’t provide enough information for the ministry to fully investigate his claims of inadequate treatment.

However his statement is completely at odds with the services that the ministry’s staff offer daily when caring for cancer patients and those with terminal conditions.

Davies adds that Prasad’s unsubstantiated claims risk caused unnecessary distress to patients and their loved ones at a time when they most needed reassurance and sympathy.

The Permanent Secretary defended his ministry saying the staff are qualified professionals who administer palliative care at major hospitals to provide the best possible care.

He says the administration of drugs for pain relief at the end of life is highly technical and requires extensive specialist training.

He has also confirmed there’s no shortage of vital products including morphine in tablet, liquid and intravenous forms.

Fijians are being advised to use the established facilities including the ministry’s customer care feedback line to register a complaint if you have a concern about a patient.

Davies says Prasad didn’t do any of these things and to date hasn’t made a formal complaint or expression of concern.

Instead, he has raised these sensitive issue with the media with no evidence to support his case.