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Brantley: Davita Legal Problems Concerning by Merv-Ann Thompson Minister of Healt-Hon. Mark Brantley

NIA Health Minister Hon. Mark Brantley and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Martin’s stance not to support a recent free kidney screening fair in Nevis appears to have been justified. Approximately three weeks ago the Caribbean Health and Education Foundation (CHEF) and Kidney Trust conducted free kidney screenings, first in Nevis and then on St. Kitts. Hundreds of citizens were screened on both islands. The issue became controversial when it was revealed that the CMO and Brantley had not approved CHEF’s screenings. Brantley indicated that based on Dr. Martin’s advice the Nevis Ministry of Health and its workers could not formally participate in the event. He cited the fact that Dr. Martin clearly indicated to CHEF what the requirements are to conduct that type of research in the Federation, noting they are international protocols. CHEF still proceeded with the screenings, which, according to Brantley, was in violation of procedural and ethical norms. “These issues have not been resolved [and] in terms of the ethical questions, CHEF and the Renal Society have not complied. In relation to the data ownership, CHEF has been adamant that all the data from this research will belong to CHEF and will be the personal and private property of CHEF,”Brantley had said. Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, a former medical practitioner, instructed NIA health workers to “defy’the Minister and participate in the health fair. “I…say to you- nurses, defy whatever ruling that has been given by Mark Brantley; defy it!”he said on his live radio program. Recent headlines have surfaced in the local domain about Kidney Trust’s parent company, Davita, being the subject of criminal and civil federal investigations in the US. One of the main articles being circulated is headlined “DaVita says it will pay $389 million to settle federal investigations”, written by Christopher N. Osher of the Denver Post. The company is alleged to have engaged in unethical and illegal deals involving kick-backs to nephrologists (kidney doctors). Brantley told The Observer the Davita was concerning, in light of what transpired in the Federation weeks ago. “It is of some concern to learn that Davita Healthcare is the parent of Kidney Trust and that these were the partners on the renal screening exercise in Nevis,”he said. Hon. Brantley said it proved that the NIA’s Ministry of Health was correct in adhering to the advice of the CMO, who is appointed and paid by the federal government. “Whilst the island welcomes healthcare partnerships, the recent revelations about Davita in the US demonstrate that the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Martin was absolutely correct in insisting that ethical approval be obtained. Clearly that ethical approval was refused and the Ministry of Health in Nevis abided by the advice of the CMO who is paid to advise us.”He warned that citizens should remain alert as “not everything free is actually without cost”.

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