Is the “Cancer doctor” coming back?

Dr. Carl Niamatali  once headed Grenada’s cancer programme

Dr. Carl Niamatali once headed Grenada’s cancer programme

Controversial Guyanese “Oncologist” Dr. Carl Niamatali could return to Grenada to give his services under the New National Party (NNP), which is back in Government after a five-year hiatus.

During Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister for Health, Dr Clarice Modeste-Curwen was asked to comment about reports circulating in the country that Dr Niamatali is returning to resume work as an oncologist at the island’s main Hospital.

This, she said was not rule out, adding there is “no commitment to engage him in a permanent way”.

Dr. Niamatali headed Grenada’s Cancer Programme under the former NNP-led government until its defeat at the polls following the July 08, 2008 General Election.

The Guyanese born medical doctor who lived in Ireland for a number of years was given a one-year contract to operate the country’s cancer programme at the General Hospital but was unmasked when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government took office as not having the qualifications of an Oncologist.

Having served under the present Health Minister, Dr Modeste sought to justify the employment of Dr Niamatali as an Oncologist by saying to the media, “he came to us highly recognised from Ireland”.

When asked if the discoveries that Dr Niamatali was not fully qualified to practice as an Oncologist, and whether or not she is concerned about the possibility of his return to the cancer programme, Dr Modeste suggested that the media question the patients who received his services and check the statistics for the period under which he served.

She disclosed that Government has no commitment to engage Dr. Niamatali in a permanent way.

Former Health Minister Karl Hood had reported to the local media about some discrepancies he discovered in the national cancer programme that was launched in 2007 by the NNP administration.

The then Junior Minister in the Ministry of Health, Senator Ann Peters sat alongside Hood at the media briefing.




“What we have found as we looked at the programme, and we looked at the personnel involved is that we have had … a specialist on contract in Grenada that actually was not a specialist. In other words, there was no qualification that justified his involvement in a programme like this”, Hood told reporters as he reported on Dr Niamatali.

The issue was elaborated upon by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Dilip Mukerjee who explained how he had actually made the discovery after being bombarded with complaints from persons seeking cancer treatment.

“I was getting concerned about it, and then to the extent that it became an official complaint… I say let me go deeper into that and then I asked for documentation. To my surprise there was none. So I asked for all his (Niamatali) credentials, his qualifications… to submit to the Medical Registrations Board”, he said.

“Although he (Dr. Niamatali) has some experience working with some renowned Oncologists, that doesn’t make somebody (a) specialist, and based on the submission of the documents, the Board registered him as a General Practitioner,” he added.

The Guyanese Doctor was also accused of procuring by himself the drugs used in the cancer programme to sell to the General Hospital rather than ordering them through the Procurement Department within the Ministry of Health.

Former Director of Service, Terron Gilchrist told the media at the press conference that the medication ordered by Dr. Niamatali had a short shelf life of approximately two weeks.

Dr Niamatali came to Grenada following the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 through Direct Relief International, which assisted Grenada with pharmaceuticals and equipment.

In 2005, an arrangement was worked out with the Ministry of Health for Dr. Niamatali to visit Grenada every two months to start an outpatient oncology clinic.

A formal arrangement was reached with him in 2007 through financial assistance provided by telecommunications provider, Digicel.

Dr Niamatali’s contract was not renewed in August 2008 by the Congress administration and he was subsequently replaced by internationally acclaimed Oncologist/Hematologist, Grenadian born Dr. Trevor Layne who is based in the United States.

 

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