HOGANSBURG, N.Y. – Delegates from the American portion of the Akwesasne reserve will tour Cuba to gather insights into diabetes treatment.
The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe announced Wednesday the tour, later the month, will take place at the behest of Jose R. Cabanas, the ambassador to the U.S. from Cuba.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, a country rich in ethnic diversity and indigenous thinking,” said Chief Beverly Cook. “The World Health Organization recognizes Cuba as having one of the most effective public health systems. The intent is that we build a relationship that allows us to access treatment that benefits native patients to avoid amputation as a result of diabetes.
“Our initial focus is on Mohawk patients and Six Nations communities with the vision of nurturing a deeper understanding and sharing of cultural practices and protocols.”
The care and prevention of diabetes-related complications in Akwesasne is one of that community’s most important health priorities.
Throughout the region, first nation people experience an 11.4 per cent prevalence of the disease. The community of Akwesasne has a diabetic population of 16.4 per cent. In comparison, the State of New York has 9.7 per cent disease prevalence.
One of the most severe complications from the disease is diabetic foot ulcer, which impairs wound healing and sometimes leads to amputation. In early 2016, the National Congress of American Indians shared information on a treatment for diabetic ulcer, developed in Cuba.
The treatment, Heberprot-P, is available in 26 countries, but not accessible in the U.S. or Canada. The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council wants to find a way to access Heberprot-P, and to consider other forms of medical treatment, including lung cancer vaccines, developed by the Cuban health system.