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Letter: Saint Vincent: Chop your foot off capital of the Caribbean
Published on September 23, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Anyone living in Saint 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, when 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 chop your foot off time in SVG.

That drug is called

Heberprot-P, according to effectiveness studies in Venezuela and Peru, reveals a successful 78 percent 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 leech 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 that 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 Saint Vincent. They say that an army marches 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 [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, landslides, houses lost, rivers burst, bridges damaged. Nothing in return; nada! Not a red cent. Not even a little Heberprot-P so 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
Reads: 7064

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Vinci Vin:


Despite the gravity of the diabetic problem, your post was quite humorous. I couldn't help but cry with laughter.

Vinci Vin

Peter Binose:

VIN, your quite right, if it wasn't such a serious matter it would be funny.

I published this letter in eight different medias, Spanish, French and English. I even sent it to Cuba but they never published it. I got an email from one of the Media House's.

Here is a true story related to this matter, a diabetic man who went to Kingstown hospital because he was recovering from a slight stroke and was suffering breathlessness. After he had been in bed for a week the family were told his foot had to be cut off. He had an infection in his foot which they could not cure. He or his family was never told about or offered the Cuban drug Heberprot-P. The foot was eventually cut off overseas, the man feels his life has ended.

What is now worse after a private analysis of the foot, the man had a disease that is common in dirty hospitals, a flesh eating disease, he got that in our hospital, he didn't bring it from home.

How many other patients contracted a serious infection at out hospital, causing them to lose a foot? How many lives have been lost because of dirty unscrubbed air in our operating theatre?

Only one ward is air-conditioned, several people a week contract pneumonia in our hospital and die.

Surely the hospital and doctors owe a duty of care to every patient, if a life saving or limb saving drug is available somewhere in the Caribbean, shouldn't they tell the patient? I would also hold the government responsible for under-funding the SVG healthcare, creating a shortage of drugs and dressings.

Just imagine VIN if this kind of treatment and conditions happened in the US, they would be sued out of site, and rightfully so.

Vincfi Vin:

Peter: One suspec ts that the problem will get worse rather than better. As tax dollars dry up and the incidence of diabetes increase problems with health care and of inefficiencies in SVG healthcare facilities will spin out of control. This is one reason why many Vincentians of retirement age who are living abroad do not come home to retire. This is a big potential loss to SVG.

Nuff respect,



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