Anyone living in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with diabetes knows that they will become footless sooner or later — their soccer days over, but the opportunity to perform in the Paraplegic Olympics.
There are more cases of foot removal in SVG than anywhere else in the Caribbean, caused by ulcerated damage to the foot or feet of diabetic patients.
Several years ago, Ces McKie, then minister of health, went to Cuba and came back and told us about a wonder drug invented by the Cubans that would save the feet of almost all diabetics who become subject to ulcerated feet. He told us that we would be getting the drug. Yet still four years later, it’s still amputation time in SVG.
That drug is called Heberprot-P.
According to studies in Venezuela and Peru, effectiveness studies reveal a successful 78 per cent impact by the medication, though most of the people treated with it already suffered from advanced ulcers, which, if their doctors had known about the drug before, the results would have been much better.
Heberprot-P was approved five years ago and over this period it has been commercialized in 18 countries, including Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Yet SVG has been left out of the supply of the drug.
SVG has been brought to its knees and is on the verge of bankruptcy because of the leach like qualities of the Cubans working in SVG, supposedly to assist us at the Argyle airport. We have been paying them millions of dollars in wages and other fees. I hasten to add, according to PM Gonsalves, money which was promised to be paid by the Venezuelans, which turned out to be untrue. Yet they still sit back and watch the feet fly in St. Vincent. They say that an army march’s on its stomach, not in SVG because you still need feet to march.
Why have we been left out of the wonder drug supply? Perhaps because it’s cheaper to chop off the feet than buy this drug. It’s not free and we don’t have oil like Venezuela, we don’t have big bucks to take a licensing agreement. I suppose they are applying the old capitalist system and decided that business is business, as capitalists we all know there can be no friends in business. Yet I thought that the Marxist system was supposed to work differently, the comradeship, the solidarity.
Do we all remember a very few years ago when Cuba was devastated by a hurricane, our government gifted them $50,000 dollars [which we could ill afford], along with a further amount which was collected from the Vincentian public. Then VINLEC sent line and pole technicians to help repair all the cable damage sustained from the same hurricane. Well since then SVG have had several devastating hurricanes, floods, land slides, houses lost, rivers burst, bridges damaged. Nothing in return. Nada! Not a red cent. Not even a little Heberprot-P so as Vincentian people can keep both their feet firmly on the ground.
Gonsalves and his family can go to Cuba whenever they want for specialist treatment — Cucumber heal treatment as professor Da S, once told us. The PM recently told us that occasionally we send citizens to Cuba for treatment and he arranges for the payment. What a shame we do not have oil, “save a foot drill an oil well”.
Cuba’s Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Centre is now launching its diabetic foot ulcer pharmaceutical known as Heberprot-P into new markets, Brazil, Peru and European countries, sorry SVG is not on the list.
I just hope I have not put my foot in it by bringing this expose.
Well so much for ALBA.Peter Binose
Self appointed keeper of the whistle.
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