Dr Joshua Hare signs a consultancy services agreement with the Ministry of Health at the Office of the Prime Minister watched by Dr Dean Goldschmidt. Photo: Peter Ramsay/BIS
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
PRIME Minister Perry Christie yesterday said the government has “provisionally approved” several scientific projects related to stem cell therapy with both scientific, educational, research and economic benefits for the country.
Mr Christie projected that other major projects would be approved per annum over the next five years.
He was speaking at the signing of two agreements heralded to drive innovation in healthcare and create new opportunities for Bahamians in the fields of Biotechnology, Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine.
The agreements were the Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Miami Leonard M Miller School of Medicine (MOU) and the University of Miami Leonard Miller School of Medicine Inter-disciplinary Stem Cell Institute; the Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority; and the Consultancy Services Agreement between Dr Joshua M Hare and the Ministry of Health.
Dr Hare, a leading scientist specialising in stem cell production, will serve as the Co-Chairman of the National Stem Cell Ethics Scientific Sub-Committee and provide access to the services of the Stem Cell Interdisciplinary Laboratory of the University of Miami.
Mr Christie said: “Indeed this sentinel moment also comes at a pivotal time in the history of The Bahamas as we implement National Health Insurance thereby providing our citizens with accessible, equitable and high quality healthcare; one of our most significant social objectives of my government.
“This MOU provides that the University of Miami will engage in education, training physicians, health care practitioners and scientists in finding new treatments and therapies for heart disease, neurological disease, bone disease, diabetes, cancer, eye diseases and other chronic, debilitating or incurable diseases.”
Mr Christie said: “The University of Miami through this MOU will explore the possibility of providing services including establishing relationship between healthcare providers, nationally and internationally; developing telemedicine facilities to assist in diagnosis and treatment of patients; facilitate speciality training for physicians and medical practitioners in areas other than stem cell research and therapy upon request from the Ministry of Health/Public Hospitals Authority and in collaboration with the University of the West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research specific identifiable needs.
“This MOU further provides that the University of Miami, through the interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, will explore the possibility of providing services and support such as the establishment of a Stem Cell Laboratory ‘free standing’ or in collaboration with an existing laboratory within The Bahamas; provision of resources and expertise as necessary to advance from The Bahamas stem cell research, stem cell therapy and stem cell product development; advancement of The Bahamas as a centre of excellence for stem cell research and a centre for innovation in biotechnological advances, as well as providing expertise as a member of the National Stem Cell Ethics Committee, the Scientific Sub-committee and the Monitoring Compliance Stem Cell sub-committee; providing the framework in accordance with international best practices to train and develop Bahamian scientists particularly in the area of stem cell research and therapy and regenerative medicine.”