DEAR EDITOR, last week I was moved to read a rather sad story in the Island Sun Newspaper reportedly contributed by a diabetic-inpatient at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) surgical ward which concerned a plea for the surgical ward to have more wheel chairs to aid the mobility of patients having had leg amputations.
I subsequently wrote to say that ‘Take My Hands’ Charity Trust in New Zealand, my partner charity, has promise to freight up to 30 wheel chairs very soon, possibly in a 40 container with hospital beds for the NRH due to sail from New Zealand on 29 August 2018.
Yesterday, I was again able to read in the Island Sun newspaper, under Letters to the Editor, that the same in-patient at the NRH’s surgical ward had made a more significant plea for patients suffering from diabetic foot ulcers,
The plea centered on what the patient described as a Cuban medication for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, citing by using the medication many amputations had been prevented in Cuban hospitals treating diabetic cases.
The writer believed the medication, known as Heberprot-P Medication should be introduced to the Solomon Islands where it was claimed it could be curing diabetic foot ulcers and reduce the need for life changing amputations.
I was not aware of the medication but thought it might be useful for the MOHMS to have some early knowledge of the Cuban developed medication, if not already fully known about.
The most comprehensive review of Heberprot-P I came across was a report published last August in Havana, Cuba and re-published by Xinhua.
Here is the full text
“HAVANA, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) — Luis Navarro is a young Cuban who at 34 years of age already suffers from chronic diabetes for the past 23 years. Recently, several ulcers have appeared on his foot, putting it at risk of being amputated…
“However, this has not happened, thanks to a unique Cuban product Heberprot-P, a drug that has sparked acclaim for its effectiveness in controlling and healing diabetic foot ulcers.
“A few weeks ago, Navarro was admitted at Havana’s Institute of Angiology and Vascular Surgery, a medical institution where comprehensive treatment is given to patients suffering from chronic diabetes.
“I had a big wound on my foot and it was pretty bad. The doctors applied Heberprot-P and I could see the substantial improvement in just 20 days. Since then I was discharged and my ulcer is almost closed,” the man told Xinhua.
“This drug registered in 2006 was created by Cuban scientist Jorge Berlanga and a team from the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of the island.
“It contains epithermal growth factor (EGF) as an active pharmaceutical ingredient, while being applied by direct infiltration or injections in the wound site closing the ulcers in a period of 45 to 90 days.
“The change with this drug is incredible. Heberprot-P has been the best product invented by Cuban scientists. Whoever lives with this disease knows that foot ulcers improve a lot with this treatment,” added Navarro.
“In 2001, when Heberprot-P clinical trials began at this medical institution, Dr. Jose Fernandez Montequin was one of the first to apply the treatment to Cuban patients.
“According to Montequin, before local scientists created the drug, there were high rates of amputations in the Cuban diabetic population.
“With the application of this medication, we were able to reduce amputation rates in the country from 70 percent to 5 percent today,” he told Xinhua.
“In 2016, out of about 35,000 Cuban patients with diabetic foot ulcers, only 480 amputations were performed.
“We have improved the quality of life of patients and especially mortality.
“Another benefit of Heberprot-P, according to the expert, is that its application drastically reduces the resurgence of ulcers to just 5 percent of patients treated.
“Following its implementation in more than 450 clinics in the island, Cuban doctors and scientists have provided guidance and recommendations on the product in more than 20 countries, including Russia, Kuwait, Algeria, Argentina, Ecuador, China and Venezuela.
“Currently, Heberprot-P is registered in 23 countries and is effectively applied in 10 countries that have already authorized its use and marketing.
“Our product has already been used on more than 60,000 patients in Cuba and around 250,000 patients worldwide, capable of preventing more than 70 percent of amputations,” said Montequin.
“Scientists on the island now hope to see the drug used in China, which currently has the largest population of diabetics in the world.
“Heberprot-P is currently undergoing clinical trials in China for its future use and marketing to diabetic patients.
“Meanwhile, the Havana Institute of Angiology and Vascular Surgery uses it every day to treat dozens of patients.
“In Cuba, budgets for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers have decreased due to the drug’s emergence. In 2006, we had more than 40 beds dedicated to diabetic foot ulcers, now we only have 28,” said Montequin.
“Direct and indirect costs to the Cuban health system have been reduced with the Heberprot-P national program,” he said.
“On June 30, the Cuban health ministry celebrated the 10th anniversary of the national diabetic foot ulcer program and its treatment with Heberprot-P.”.
Perhaps, the Solomon Island Ministry of Health and Medical Services might wish to investigate whether Heberprot-P could indeed prove beneficial to patients with diabetic ulcers at the NRH and who face the prospect of surgery.
I really do hope so.