SickKids Caribbean ‘a lifesaver of our young’


“Look, ah playing pan.” Saint Lucia Gov. Gen. Pearlette Louisy enjoys a moment with veteran Trini pannist and teacher Tommy Crichlow during her Toronto visit. Gerald V. Paul photo. By Gerald V. Paul
“Look, ah playing pan.” Saint Lucia Gov. Gen. Pearlette Louisy enjoys a moment with veteran Trini pannist and teacher Tommy Crichlow during her Toronto visit. Gerald V. Paul photo.
By Gerald V. Paul

Saint Lucia’s governor general brought a message to Toronto: Continue the good work of SickKids-Caribbean Initiative or “we wlll never be able to look another cancer patient child in the eyes.”

Dame Pearlette Louisy, patron of Saint Lucia Toronto Aid Action Group (STAAG) responsible for the Caribbean Soiree gala, last Saturday at the Peter and Paul’s Banquet Hall said the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative is transforming the lives of children with paediatric cancer and blood disorders.

In Canada children have an 80 to 90% rate of cancer survival. In the Caribbean, that drops to between 50 and 60%.

“The SickKids International Caribbean Paediatric Outreach Project has been a life-saver of our young ones, while those who have lost the fight to this particular condition have had the quality of their young lives greatly enhanced, thanks in large measure to the local diagnostic support, the education and training, the case consultations and the comprehensive assessment of our local oncology services provided by SCI,” said Louisy.

With Trinidad and Tobago being one of the countries assisted, Tommy Crichlow – one of a few steelpan builders in Canada and of Panmasters Steelband fame – was on hand to share his pan wisdom. Louisy was enthused to meet an expert who is known throughout the steelpan world as a builder, tuner, arranger, adjudicator and a teacher.

Also at the Black Tie Affair Dinner and Dance, connecting via music were Gypsy, Derede Williams, Barbara Cadet, Clarence ‘George’ Scott and the T 7 Band while Saint Lucia Consul General Michael Willius  noted, “Our region has for decades been a world leader in disciplines such as music.”

Willius and Louisy told the gathering the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative was launched three years ago to improve outcomes for treatment of Caribbean children suffering with cancer and blood disorders by improving access to diagnosing procedures, treatment and supportive care at medical facilities in six Caribbean countries.

Louisy commended Jeannie Beausoleil as the visionary behind the project and her team, “trusting they will increase the number of nationals who have answered your call to dare to care.

“To the Saint Lucia Toronto Aid Action Group, I say thanks for your invaluable contribution in raising the awareness of the initiative among the Caribbean Diaspora in North America and Canada, and for the financial resources that STAAG has been able to mobilize in support of the life-saving co-operative effort.”

Delores Fletcher, chairperson of STAAG, applauded Dr. Upton Allen, Dr. Melanie Kirby-Allen and Dr. Victor Blanchett, their counterparts at SickKids, and the doctors across the Caribbean who work with them to maintain the high quality of the project.

The Initiative is addressing the following gaps in care: lack of physicians with specialized training in paediatric cancer care; lack of front-line health-care providers, including nurses and pharmacists and limited data on the effectiveness of treatments and the epidemiology of paediatric cancer in the region.

To donate to the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative, visit http://mysickkidsdonations/caribbeansoiree.

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