In another of Jeremy Gwao’s moving pieces in today’s Solomon Times, he tells the story of a patient who would wish to see the Solomon Islands Medical Health Services better equipped and able to treat patients suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses.
On the eve of the country’s 42nd year of independence, I have the same concerns despite the dedicated doctors, nurses and health professionals of the MOHMS who are regularly working under pressure but lacking the many diagnostic and treatment options available in offshore hospitals and specialist medical centres.
It is reported that in 2018, the latest figures available, 331 persons died of cancer in the Solomons.
In the same year, the WHO reported 504 people were diagnosed with cancer in the Solomon Islands.
I have often made mention of my concern over the incidences of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) occurring in the Solomons and the measures needed in the community to reduce the risk of NCD’s by following a proper diet, by having regular exercise and reducing or stopping, smoking and consuming alcohol.
Perhaps the most serious impact of NCD’s is contracting diabetes and, as we know, one of the leading causes of hospitalization and surgical leg amputations at the National Referral Hospital (NRH).
While I try to gain help for amputees with appeals (and recently responded to by the FSA with a donation of 300 metal crutches) and by trying to obtain a facility to replace the now demolished Rehabilitation Workshop at the NRH, I have much concern for the care and treatment of patients suffering from diabetic foot complications and at risk of losing a leg.
It is for such reasons that I previously wrote about a Cuban product called Heberprot-P.
This product containing recombinant human epidermal growth factor for peri- and intra-lesional infiltration; evidence reveals it accelerates healing of deep and complex ulcers, both ischemic and neuropathic, and reduces diabetes-related amputations.
Clinical trials of Heberprot-P in patients with diabetic foot ulcers have shown that repeated local infiltration of this product can enhance healing of chronic wounds safely and efficaciously.
As a result, Heberprot-P was registered in Cuba in 2006, and in 2007 was included in the National Basic Medications List and approved for marketing. It has been registered in 15 other countries, enabling treatment of more than 100,000 patients.
Heberprot-P is a unique therapy for the most complicated and recalcitrant chronic wounds usually associated with high amputation risk. Local injection in complex diabetic wounds has demonstrated a favorable risk-benefit ratio by speeding healing, reducing recurrences and attenuating amputation risk.
My understanding is Heberprot-P is not available in the Solomon Islands although I believe it was initially assessed by two doctors of the MOHMS but more assessments are considered essential on the cost effectiveness and safety of the product.
A recent Slovakian study is quoted as saying:
Cost-effectiveness of Heberprot-P has never been presented in any previous publications. However, generalizability of main conclusions is limited. Heberprot-P has not been evaluated by the European Medicines Agency, therefore high level uncertainty related to clinical effectiveness and safety of Heberprot-P need to be emphasized. In addition, heterogeneity of good wound care in different countries or regions represents an important limitation in the transferability of results to other jurisdictions.”
I really do hope further testing and deployment worldwide of Heberprot-P will go ahead soon to provide an opportunity to further assess the product's potential to address the important unmet medical need in the Solomon Islands.