Opposition Leader Douglas calls for a halt to stem cell research at JNF until legislation is in place

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS – Leader of the Opposition Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said Tuesday that the possible contamination of the private ward of the J. N. France General Hospital as a result of an unauthorised Regenerative Stem Cell Research Project has generated fear and concern among the population and has called for the research stem cell project to be halted.

Speaking at a press conference of his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), the former prime minister also called for the resignations of Prime Minister Dr. The Hon. Timothy Harris, Health Minister Hon. Eugene Hamilton and Minister of State, Sen. the Hon. Wendy Phipps.

“Those persons who are engaged at the J. N. France General Hospital in this so-called stem cell research should not continue to perform the duties that they have been ordered to perform by the medical and health authorities unless safety procedures have been detailed, unless we can see that adequate legislation has been put in place regarding the conduct of such research activities pertaining to stem cell research or the application of therapy whatever is the application of therapy or whatever is the application that is engaged in this particular stem cell research,” said Dr. Douglas.

He is of the view that the general public must not use the private ward at the Joseph N France General Hospital unless the government makes it abundantly clear that it is safe for them to do so.

Before the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party left office in February 2014, draft legislation was prepared. Dr Douglas said it was the draft legislation that was shared with the Government of the Bahamas and a few weeks ago the Government of Antigua and Barbuda took that draft to its own parliament to deal with stem cell research.

After making those demands, Dr. Douglas expressed concern over the welfare of the nurses and other medical personnel who work at the medical institution.

“If for example the medical doctor according to the Junior Minister of Health, Wendy Phipps, was not practicing, who was administering the therapy on the two patients? Was it Dr Archibald and is Dr. Archibald trained to administer such therapy and work on research on stem cells and if it was not Dr Archibald, was it Dr. Cameron Wilkinson? Was he the paid specialist working with the patients who were admitted to our own hospital, when the hospital administration has not been provided with any formal documentation as to the admission of these two patients,” asked Dr. Douglas.

Dr Douglas also questioned whether the local nurses involved in the unauthorised stem cell project at the J N France General Hospital are trained in stem cell research and raised the concern that the health of the nurses is being compromised when they were ordered to carry out support in the three rooms of the hospital’s private ward.

“Do they have a choice? And if others are been paid for their services in the stem cell research, are the nurses been paid and who including members of government are been paid,” asked Dr Douglas.

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