Diabetes is defined as a serious disease in which the body cannot seriously control the amount of sugar in the blood because it does not have enough insulin. Over 300 Vincentians are diagnosed with the disease yearly.
Officials in the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment met on Thursday June 2nd with diabetic patients and caregivers at the Methodist Church Hall to discuss the Herberprot-P drug and other matters related to the disease.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed an agreement with the government of Cuba in mid 2015 to start purchasing the Cuban produced Herberprot-P drug used to treat diabetic patients.
Sister Arianna Taylor, a Cuban nurse who also works with diabetic patients in her remarks on behalf of her government said the Cuban government was grateful to this country for the opportunity to make the drug available to patients.
“We are proud the two governments are working together in this matter.” She said adding that this will help to improve the health of the patients.
The drug, which is said to have a very high successful rate, is currently registered to be used in 26 countries with St. Vincent and the Grenadines being the first in the Eastern Caribbean to start the programme.
Meanwhile Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment Luis De Shong said that while it has a very successful rate, he is very cautious not to refer to it as a “miracle” drug.
He told those gathered at the Symposium that a Cuban doctor had arrived in the country in November 2015 to help with the implementation of the drug.
Mr. De Shong said that the data shows that there is a diabetes problem in this country and the problem is exasperated by the fact that a number of people are having amputations. He noted that having received knowledge that these amputations could be avoided by this drug that the Cuban authorities were implementing and marketing action was quickly taken to seek the assistance of the Cubans.
He said to date 54 diabetic patients have benefited from the drug, which is a novel product for treating advanced diabetic foot ulcers, with some reaching the point of complete improvement in their condition and others going through stages to get there.
According to Permanent Secretary De Shong the administration of the drug first started at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, however, it has since been expanded to have some patients transferred to the Georgetown Hospital and also allows patients to have a clinic where they can go to receive appropriate treatment for their condition.