Co-funded by Citadele Bank and the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia in the amount of 5.6 million euros, a healthcare centre for treating oncology patients is under construction in Sigulda. The healthcare centre will feature the highly advanced CyberKnife radiosurgery system designed for non-invasive treatment of specific tumours. This type of oncologic treatment has not been available in the Baltic States up to now.
The CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery technology is especially tailored for treating tumours in difficult to reach areas, such as brain, spinal medulla, organs that are subject to movement (e.g. lungs, prostate) and elsewhere in the human body. The nearest location where this technology is currently available is Kuopio, Finland.
Oncologic morbidity remains very high in Latvia: according to the data of Centre for Disease Prevention and Control of Latvia, approximately 75 000 patients residing here have been diagnosed with cancer. The annual average number of patients who receive radiotherapy is 8 000. Estimates of the Latvian Therapeutic Radiology Association indicate that approximately 800 patients per year need radiosurgery.
Dace Saukuma, Chairperson of the Latvian Therapeutic Radiology Association, explains: "CyberKnife enables to treat oncologic patients by precisely targeting large amounts of radiation to tumours thus limiting the surrounding healthy tissue and achieving similar effect to surgical treatment. The entire dose of ionizing radiation is delivered during the course of 1–4 sessions in the shape of outpatient treatment. Less complications and higher life quality indices are observed after radiosurgery as opposed to surgical treatment. Moreover, this type of treatment can be applied to patients who cannot undergo surgery due to comorbidity and anatomic localization of tumours."
Stereotactic Radiosurgery Centre Sigulda not only will offer unique treatment opportunities for oncology patients in Latvia, it will also contribute to export capacity of the provided healthcare services.
Dēvijs Zīvers, Head of the Stereotactic Radiosurgery Centre Sigulda: "The Stereotactic Radiosurgery Centre will be located in the territory of the Sigulda hospital thus establishing synergy for the development of medical tourism. This means that we will mainly focus on medical tourism and target Nordic and CIS countries. Our plans encompass ensuring up to 500 patients with radiotherapy per year, and the cost of one course of treatment will be starting from 7 000 euros. The availability of courses of treatment for Latvian patients will largely depend on whether and to what extent the government will provide funding. In order for courses of treatment to be more accessible for Latvian patients, we have launched a certification process for receiving government support for local patients."
"The municipality-owned Sigulda hospital has developed rapidly during the recent years. Residents of Sigulda wish, are able and know how to achieve ambitious goals in various areas, including medicine. Establishment of a stereotactic radiosurgery centre in Sigulda is one such example. We believe that this investment will be yet another very important benefit for the residents of Latvia and Sigulda”, points out Uģis Mitrevics, Chairperson of the Sigulda County Council.
Sigulda hospital's experience with medical tourism dates back to 2010, and radical surgical therapy for obesity has been its key medical export product.
"Sigulda hospital has positive experience in cooperating with private medical enterprises that develop innovative services. The technology to be introduced by the Stereotactic Radiosurgery Centre Sigulda is very necessary for Latvian patients. It will also be an exportable service", comments Valdis Siļķe, Member of the Board of SIA Siguldas Slimnīca.
A total of 5.6 million euros were invested in constructing the Stereotactic Radiosurgery Centre Sigulda and purchasing the necessary equipment; Citadele Bank granted 3.8 million. The project is being implemented within the scope of the High Value-Added Investments Programme, Stage 4, implemented by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia.
Santa Purgaile, Member of the Citadele Bank's Board, confirms that corporate lending is one of the bank's priorities – Citadele granted a total of 122 million euros in funding for enterprises last year. One-third (30%) of the total funding was granted to manufacturing enterprises whereas 27% of funding went to service providers. Supporting companies that manufacture goods or provide services with high added value, and present exportability, is of utmost importance in order to facilitate economic growth. We are open to funding business activity; the Sigulda Healthcare Centre project is one of the rate private investment projects in the medical field, and it serves as evidence that new areas of entrepreneurship can be developed using the bank's funds."