WIMMERA Health Care Group Foundation chairman Don Johns has labelled the proposed $3-million oncology centre as one of the most significant projects in Horsham’s history.
In April last year, Mr Johns announced the foundation would focus on establishing a state-of-the-art oncology service in Horsham after reaching its $1-million target ahead of deadline.
Less than 12 months later, the foundation and health service’s 2020 vision is on its way to becoming a reality, with more than $1.25 million committed for the project.
Mr Johns said Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s announcement of $1 million for the centre was outstanding.
‘‘It’s unbelievable,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a great start.’’
Mr Johns paid tribute to Member for Mallee Andrew Broad for championing the project.
‘‘Andrew has really put his work into this,’’ he said.
‘‘We appreciate how he has represented us in parliament and with the prime minister.
‘‘He is really representing the Wimmera really well.’’
Mr Johns said the centre would benefit the whole region.
‘‘Cancer affects everyone,’’ he said.
‘‘If we can make it better for the families and the people having the treatment, then we must have this oncology unit.
‘‘This is one of the best projects, I believe, ever in Horsham.
‘‘It is essential. I hope the whole Wimmera gets behind it and we can get it built very soon.’’
Mr Johns said he hoped the state government would also throw its support behind the project.
Ballarat oncologist George Kannourakis, who provides cancer treatment in Horsham once a fortnight, also welcomed Mr Abbott’s announcement.
‘‘I’m the sole provider of haematology and oncology services at the moment,’’ Professor Kannourakis said.
‘‘We treat a similar number of patients up here to what we do at Ballarat Health Service.
‘‘I’m happy to treat as many here as possible.’’
Professor Kannourakis said patients would benefit from an upgraded centre.
‘‘This particular centre will allow patients to be treated in a more timely manner and hopefully they’ll get better staffing,’’ he said.
‘‘When the patient does have treatment, they will be in a much better environment.
‘‘Of course the most important part is to make sure they have access to the best treatment. That’s the key to the whole thing.’’
Professor Kannourakis is the director of the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute, which is committed to groundbreaking cancer research.
He said the institute was working on immune system-based treatments, which he believed could replace chemotherapy.