The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is creating a little piece of Whittington in its west-central city of Couva.
The country is basing its new specialist Haemaglobin Disorders Treatment Centre on the internationally-renowned thalassaemia unit at The Whittington Hospital.
The new centre, which will open later in the year, is the first of its kind in the Caribbean and is set to transform treatment for Trinidad and Tobago’s thalassaemia patients.
Although the country’s hospitals provide some thalassaemia care, patients often have to travel to centres in the USA and the UK to receive specialist thalassaemia treatment.
The Whittington Hospital’s thalassaemia unit was chosen as a template of best practice because of its globally-renowned reputation for effectively treating the blood disorder.
The hospital has a 30-year history of clinical, educational and research excellence in thalassaemia, and, in conjunction with University College London, treats the largest group of patients in the UK.
The unit offers tailor-made and holistic clinical treatment for thalassaemia and a community-based centre provides additional support such as counselling to local patients.
The hospital’s specialist medical professionals regularly work with global organisations such as the International Thalassaemia Federation to provide advice and expertise on thalassaemia treatment.
The Trinidad and Tobago High Commission has led the development of the new centre after first becoming aware of the Whittington unit’s expertise ten years ago. In that time, the High Commission has lobbied the country’s health ministry for the necessary funding to replicate the Whittington unit.
His Excellency Garvin Nicholas, Trinidad and Tobago’s High Commissioner to London, said: “In Trinidad and Tobago we currently have 65 patients, some very young, who are suffering from this devastating blood disorder.
“Thalassaemia causes mild or severe anaemia, thus patients require continuous access to high quality health care. The Haemoglobin Disorders Treatment Centre will ensure that these patients no longer need to leave our shores to seek specialist treatment for their condition.
“I am heartened that our Mission’s liaison with The Whittington Hospital will result in this necessary advancement in the standard of health care provided to our citizens.”
The Honourable Fuad Khan, Minister of Health of Trinidad and Tobago, recently visited The Whittington Hospital to observe the workings of the unit. He is determined to ensure that the proposed centre matches the expertise and service of Whittington unit. The country is planning to send a consortium of nurses and doctors to the United Kingdom, on an ongoing basis, to glean further expertise.
The Whittington Hospital’s specialist thalassaemia nurse Emma Prescott has also visited Trinidad and Tobago to advise medical staff there on effective thalassaemia treatment.
Emma Prescott said: “The Whittington Hospital’s patient-focused and holistic approach to treating thalassaemia has been making waves around the world for many years.
“It’s always very exciting and humbling to see our unit and treatment used as a beacon of best practice in this way.
“I wish our colleagues in Trinidad and Tobago the best of luck with the new centre.”
7 August 2013