Steering Committee Chairperson for the Global Saint Lucia Diabetes Research Project, Professor Dr. Philippe A. Halban, has said that the initiative will create jobs for locals.
Dr. Halban made this announcement at a joint press conference with the Ministry of Health on Monday.
The diabetes research expert explained that while WScience will be leading the research, the government will be integrally involved, and the steering committee will include representatives from the local medical sector.
Dr. Halban said apart from medical personnel being trained, local companies will also be hired to carry out other components of the project, including carrying out the education campaigns.
The non-profit organisation, which was founded by Dr. Walid Juffali, will help with the initial phase of the project. A budget, he said, has been set aside to help fund the project for the first two years.
“The budget for that two years have been constructed and evaluated very thoroughly. Its a very generous budget and shows to be very adequate for all the activities we have been describing,” he said.
While Dr. Halban did not disclose how much it will cost WScience for the initial phase of the project, he said it will be left up to the Saint Lucian government to sustain, when it is finally set up.
While persons have doubted that Dr. Jufalli’s organisation may not have continued with the diabetes project, given recent reports of his illness and his divorce which has made international headlines, the foreign team has expressed optimism that the project will pull through and a Diabetes Research centre will be eventually established.
“I can assure you that I would not have accepted to chair the steering of an activity that I thought would not prove successful. All eyes are on us, on Saint Lucia. We have to make this successful, not just for the people with diabetes on this island, but to show that this island is able to develop a really, really exciting partnership project, ” Dr. Halban declared.
It was also explained that there will be immediate benefits from the project, especially since WScience will be funding the purchase of diabetes medication, the purchase of a new dialysis machine, and plans to contribute towards the purchase of other machines for diagnosis purposes and support infrastructure.
The Steering Committee Chairperson said this project will place Saint Lucia at a great advantage not only in the Caribbean but internationally, and it may be used as a model for many other countries.
“Typically, public private partnerships focus on communicable diseases and not on chronic disease. So this is a fantastic, unique and special example of government partnering with non profit, to target a non-communicable disease and that is real refreshing news across the world.”
Health Minister, Alvina Reynolds, also underscored the importance of the project, stating that the government will use previous models, such as the one used in the 2005 HIV project, to ensure that the project is sustained.
While she did not disclose how much it will cost government to maintain the centre on an annual basis, Reynolds said: ” You cant put dollars to that. But its just that there are resources from the government that we have to get that project underway.”
The minister said during discussions with the foreign team, the question of research in other areas was raised. However, she said Saint Lucia must first show a high level of commitment and record some level of success with this project, before government can lobby for similar projects this nature to be considered.