Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 24, 2016 (SKNIS): Minister of State with Responsibility for Health, the Honourable Wendy Phipps, has dismissed claims made by Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Patrick Martin that he was sent forthwith on vacation leave because he objected to a stem cell project presently underway at the Joseph Nathaniel France (JNF) Hospital that had not received the requisite approval from the St. Kitts and Nevis Medical Board.
However, Minister Phipps said in a nationalized address broadcast on ZIZ Television on June 23, that there is no stem cell project being carried out at the JNF Hospital and that the research project presently underway at the hospital has received wide-spread support and is part and parcel of two new business ventures in the area of Regenerative Medicine that were approved by Cabinet within the past six (6) months.
“Government has given approval to a research project involving the use of plasma-based infusion therapies, to a limited number of overseas patients. The project, as approved, will not extend to any residents of St. Kitts and Nevis. It is a Phase 2-staged Clinical Trial of a research initiative that has already received US-Food & Drug Administration (FDA) level one approval, said Minister Phipps.
The project, Minister Phipps said, has received international support from private sector partners including the St. Kitts Marriott (Royal Plastics Group); St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation – in an advisory capacity; Canadian businessman, Mr. Kevin Klein; and two other investors, including a Brazilian medical group.
She also made it clear that both projects “have been carefully vetted prior to approval.”
“Advice was sought and obtained from key stakeholders in Health including members of the St. Kitts and Nevis Medical Board, Ministry of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO),” Minister Phipps said.
According to Minister Phipps, the initiative is a part of the Government of National Unity’s commitment to diversify the economy via targeted investments in medical tourism and the medical services sector.
“By extension, economic investments in the Federation’s health and wellness sector is inclusive of attracting cutting edge technology, research and development in the area of Regenerative Medicine, given that this is, by far, one of the fastest growing sub-sectors of the global healthcare industry,” she said.
Minister Phipps further stated that one of the two Regenerative projects approved by the Government was originally approved by the former Douglas-led Labour Administration on March 5, 2013 via letter signed by then Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Joseph Edmeade. The former administration secured over $800,000 for the private venture from the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF).