Rogue herpes vaccine trial investigation should be carried out by Chief Medical Officer, not police, says Douglas

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Leader of the Opposition, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas

Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 24th 2017 – Leader of the Opposition in St. Kitts and Nevis, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas has described as “a malicious and deliberate attempt to deceive the people,” a Team Unity Government investigation into a rogue herpes vaccine trial involving 20 United States and British citizens at private home on St. Kitts last year.

Deeming the herpes vaccine trial and an illegal stem cell project which also took place at St. Kitts’ J. N. France General Hospital, without the knowledge of Dr. Patrick Martin, who was the chief medical officer at the time, Dr. Douglas noted that under the Public Health Act and other legislation governing the importation of medicines and vaccines into St. Kitts and Nevis, it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to investigate violations of those legislation and regulations.

The Team Unity Government of Prime Minister  Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris has announced that the herpes vaccine investigation will be carried out by the St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force. He said that the illegal Stem Cell research had the blessing of the Cabinet.

“The key officers in the Ministry of Health who have the responsibility for coordinating and conducting such investigations are the Permanent Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer,” said Dr. Douglas during Tuesday’s  weekly programme “Ask the Leader” on Kyss 102.5 FM. The post of Permanent Secretary has been vacant for well over a year in violation of the Constitution (Section 61).

Douglas, a physician said because people and vaccines crossed the border, the Ministry of Health officers must be the first to investigate in conjunction with Immigration and Customs, two departments in the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Finance respectively.

“The Office of Chief Medical Officer was bypassed in that the Ministers of Health and the Cabinet have handed over the investigation to the police. If there is really going to be an investigation, then who really are conducting these investigations when there is no permanent secretary?,” said Dr. Douglas, who is of the view that the Office of the Chief Medical Officer is being by-passed in that the two ministers of health, Hon. Eugene Hamilton and Sen. the Hon. Wendy Phipps along with the Cabinet, have handed over the investigation to the police.

“We are gravely concerned that all that is happening is talk, misleading the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, compromising peoples’ health, compromising the good image and name of St. Kitts and Nevis by simply fooling the people, by taking an investigation that should be conducted and in the hands of the chief medical officer and the permanent secretary in the ministry of health and passing it into the hands of the police,” said Dr. Douglas.

“Bypassing the CMO has become a habit under the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government. The Team Unity Government has violated the Constitution and the laws of our country. It has become a habit of the Harris-led administration,” said Douglas, who pointed to several breaches of the Constitution including the removal of the former Director of Public  Prosecution, Trinidadian-born Travers Sinanan, who was later paid a purported $2 million in an out of court, the partial way in which the Public Service Commission appears to be functioning,  the non-provisioning of the Office of Leader of the Opposition and the closing and clandestine operations of the St. Kitts and Nevis Electoral Office are some of the glaring examples that violated the St. Kitts and Nevis Constitution.

He noted that the government continuously told the public that the investigations have been going on for over two and a half years.

“The investigations are deliberately placed in the wrong hands for they to be carried out and two years after  there is no information regarding the outcome of these investigations,” said Dr. Douglas, a four-term prime minister.

He singled out the investigation into the Electoral Office which the Timothy Harris administration closed for several months after winning the mid-February 2015 general elections.

“No one was allowed to register as new voters. The attorney general (Hon. Vincent Byron) himself has said that the office was closed down because of alleged irregularities and he was conducting an investigation. It is nearly three years and we are hearing nothing about the outcome of this and the other investigations,” said Douglas.

“They (Dr. Harris and his Government) are blatantly lying to the public whenever they want to carry out their nefarious actions with no cover and no constitutional power, but simply lying to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Dr. Douglas.