‘Bold and innovative’- Woodlands Hospital hopes to intensify cancer fight in Guyana


By Vishani Ragobeer

Cancer is a prevalent disease in Guyana, accounting for a large number of deaths, but the privately-owned Woodlands Hospital in Georgetown is hoping to intensify the fight against cancers through the introduction of stem cell services and immunotherapy.

Managing Director of the Woodlands Hospital, Dr. Neville Gobin, at the launch of the new services on Saturday evening, said that the use of stem cells and immunotherapy have “revolutionised” the treatment of cancer and other chronic diseases.

And he believes that patients would be able to benefit significantly from those services.

But it was the hospital’s Consultant on Internal Medicine, Dr. Pramod Tembe, who illustrated just how impactful these services would be.

Dr. Tembe said he suffered from an ailment that “partially handicapped” him. He suffered from significant pains, particularly in his spinal area and that impacted his mobility.

He, however, was encouraged to try stem cell services – wherein stem cells from his bone marrow were injected into his spine. Doing so, provided him significant relief.

“Today, I am standing in front of you without pain and almost disease free,” Dr. Tembe said.

Dr. Pramod Tembe speaking at the launch (Photo: Delano Williams/ Guyana Chronicle/ February 4, 2023)

Because of the benefits stem cells augured for him, and with new research backing the use of these cells, Dr. Tembe believed that ailing patients can benefit from these services too.

So, what are stem cells really?

Stem cells, Dr. Tembe explained, are specialised cells that have the ability to make look-alike daughter cells. They can also differentiate into other cells like muscle or skin cells.

Combined with immunotherapy, the ability of training cells to fight off viruses, Dr. Tembe believes that persons can fight off fatal ailments like cancer. And that is what he posited Woodlands will be able to do when it officially starts offering these new services.

“We are going to teach our immune system to fight off cancer cells and we will create stem cells to create cells that will fight off cancer cells,” Dr. Tembe said simply.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali addressing the gathering at the Woodlands Hospital (Photo: News Room/ February 4, 2023)

President Dr. Irfaan Ali, who spoke at the launch of the hospital’s new services on Saturday, described the new venture as “bold and innovative.”

According to him, Guyana will transform its healthcare services significantly and investments like these are crucial. In fact, he posited that Guyana, by 2030, will provides healthcare services that are globally-recognised.

Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, also welcomed the hospital’s move and highlighted that this type of specialised care that Guyana wants to champion.

“We recognise that this is going to be a potential area for growth and we want to be one of the places in the Caribbean and for that matter, where we can be pioneering this type of technology,” Dr. Anthony said.

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