by Linda Straker
- Medication used at free clinics is approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- FDA is the US Federal agency responsible for protecting the public health
- More than 40,000 persons have received clinic services and more than 600 surgeries performed
Patrick Amerbach, Chief Medical Officer onboard the US Naval Ship Comfort which will be in Grenada until 20 September, has assured that all medication used at the free clinics is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Everything we are using here is FDA approved. Everything that we do here is of a quality standard as done in the US healthcare system,” Amerbach said on Sunday following the opening ceremony to welcome the hospital ship to the island.
The FDA is the US Federal agency responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices as well as ensuring the safety of food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.
The ship with its 956 medical staff is on a five-month multinational medical assistance mission and at its completion will have made 14 port calls in 12 countries throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean, including the three OECS territories of Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Kitts.
Besides the surgeries that will be done onboard the ship, doctors from the ship will be holding daily clinics at the National Stadium and at the Grenada Trade Centre. They will be offering healthcare in several areas including wound care, urology, orthopaedic, eye care and general surgery.
Acting Health Minister, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell described the initiatives as one that will have a powerful positive effect on the healthcare system and at the same time strengthen the relationship between the countries who will benefit and the USA.
“This initiative is a very strong partnership for the people of the region. The impact of this initiative is something that Grenadians will feel for a long time,” he said as he welcomed the US delegation, the ship and the crew members.
Referring to social media fearmongering that the USNS Comfort will be engaging in clinical research without permission from patients, Dr Mitchell said that people are always sceptic about certain initiatives, but he is satisfied that the services onboard the ship is of a high acceptable medical standard. “If I did not recently do my own medical check-up, I will certainly do it now,” he said, encouraging Grenadians to take advantage of the opportunity.
Linda Taglialatela, US Ambassador to the OECS described the initiative as a celebration. “Today we celebrate the strength of our relationship,” she said, disclosing that thousands of persons in the region have received the services of the ship.
Ship’s Captain Brian J Diebold said that more than 40,000 persons have received services at the clinics and there were more than 600 surgeries, with gall bladder and cataract as the most common.
Dr George Mitchell, Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health said that the services from the ship are providing an opportunity for many who were seeking simple surgery, to receive it at a quicker time. “Citizens sometimes have to wait months to get the service at the hospital,” he said without naming specific medical surgeries.