Our Readers' Opinions
July 22, 2016
Open letter to Dr Rosmond Adams, epidemiologist, Ministry of Health

Dear Sir, I am obligated to write to you requesting a retraction of statement(s) published by you in the SEARCHLIGHT newspaper of Friday July 1, 2016, under the caption: MINISTRY OF HEALTH’S RESPONSE TO ARTICLE BY PHARMACIST MATTHEW THOMAS. In that article, authored by you, you made a very demeaning statement about me in my capacity as a practising pharmacist, which would raise doubts in the minds of any right-thinking individual, relative to my right to continue the practice of my profession.{{more}} To be precise, you published:

“Mr Matthew Thomas’s statement is not based on science and in my opinion constitutes professional irresponsibility. As a member of an allied health profession and one who is responsible for dispensing medication and advising patients, for him to make such a bold statement without any scientific evidence is misleading and can threaten the work that public health officials in this country are doing. His statement goes against what health promotion is saying and against the World Health Organization (WHO).”

In response to my article published in the SEARCHLIGHT newspaper of Tuesday, June 26, 2016, headlined: “THE CONSUMPTION OF SALT AND/OR SUGAR NEITHER A PRECURSOR NOR A CAUSE OF DIABETES OR HYPERTENSION!” you made three erroneous quotations/statements, namely:

1. ” Mr Matthew Thomas in Tuesday’s publication of the SEARCHLIGHT newspaper stating boldly that diabetes and hypertension are not caused by, nor are they linked to increased sugar and salt consumption”.

2. “Matthew Thomas made these statements in response to a statement by Jomo Thomas in which Jomo stated that marijuana is less dangerous than sugar, owing to the number of persons who are suffering from amputations as a result of uncontrolled diabetes.”

3. “Mr Thomas failed to explain what will happen when we consume excess of what the body needs.”

In reference to # 1, I never made reference to consumption of excess salt or sugar. My topic was quite specific in which I stated: “THE CONSUMPTION OF SALT AND/SUGAR NEITHER A PRECURSOR NOR CAUSE OF DIABETES OR HYPERTENSION!”

In reference to #2, the quotation from Jomo Thomas’s article is: “Thousands suffer from diabetes (sugar) and hypertension (salt), but no right-thinking person calls for a ban on salt and sugar.” Nowhere in that quotation is the statement: “That marijuana is less dangerous than sugar owing to the number of persons who are suffering from amputations as a result of uncontrolled diabetes” mentioned.

In reference to # 3, I wrote: “An individual who consumes carbohydrates more regularly than normal, will always maintain a higher than normal blood sugar level and instead of depleting the stored glucose (glycogen) will be building up the reserve to the point of becoming obese. After a prolonged state of high blood sugar level and obesity, other mechanisms may come into play causing the various cell walls to become resistant to insulin. In such a case, except the intake of carbohydrates is controlled and obesity is reduced, the individual may become a diabetic.” Also I quoted from the text Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics by Williams and Wilkins, thus: “While there is a clear epidemiological evidence of a direct relationship between dietary sodium intake and blood pressure, severe dietary sodium restriction is usually not sustainable and is not required.”

My article was in no way intended to be an attack on anyone or to malign the efforts of anyone, including the efforts of the Ministry of Health. My article, as you ought to have realized, was designed to educate and to protect the gullible and the unsuspecting from the fallacy of comparing the consumption of sugar to the dangers of smoking marijuana.

My opening paragraph states: “The more knowledgeable one is about one’s anatomy and physiology, the easier it is: (1) to understand one’s illness; (2) to better understand the reason (s) for taking one’s medication; (3) to have a better compliance rate; (4) to have an overall recovery or cure rate and (5) to have a better understanding of one’s health. I am of the opinion that health education therefore ought to be a must from kindergarten onward in order to create a healthy nation. It is like the truism: ‘An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure’.”

In my closing paragraph I said: “Except the above can be disputed, among the most important elements to enter the human body for the maintenance of life are sugars and salt. It is okay for a lawyer to make sweeping statements about aspects of health and glibly compare the social/legal discrimination between marijuana and alcohol. His training is not one of empathy for the victim…. The health professional is trained to exercise empathy; to make his patient the centre of his concern. Death is final. He cannot appeal death’s decision. The health professional has a responsibility to be concerned. He ought to be concerned.”

I referred to The Glucose Metabolic Pathway, when I used the equation: Glucose+ Oxygen +Combustion = Energy + Carbon dioxide + water. The Glucose Metabolic Pathway is a phenomenon known to all students of the health sciences. It is not a thesis of Matthew Thomas. In my argument, I maintained that the consumption of sugar is not a precursor to diabetes. If we are to accept the universally accepted definition of a precursor, which states:

In Biochemistry, the term precursor refers specifically to a chemical compound preceding another in a Metabolic Pathway. If we are to accept the fact that energy is the end product of the Glucose Metabolic Pathway, by what method then can we conclude that the consumption of sugar is a precursor to diabetes? Diabetes does not form part of The Glucose Metabolic Pathway. It is not a substrate, a metabolite or even a catalyst. If the consumption of sugar were a precursor to diabetes, then it follows logically that anyone who consumes sugar will become a diabetic. Diabetes is a disease that may be formed as a result of a malfunctioning Glucose Metabolic Pathway.

Your published statement: “Mr Matthew Thomas’s statement is not based on science and in my opinion constitutes professional irresponsibility” is unwarranted. For someone who holds your accreditation and writing specifically on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, you have no doubt caused any right-thinking person to cast doubts on the competency of my practice as a pharmacist. Apart from some personal feelings or emotions, you have not proven to me that the statement: “THE CONSUMPTION OF SALT AND/SUGAR NEITHER A PRECUSOR NOR CAUSE OF DIABETES OR HYPERTENSION to be scientifically offensive. If even I had published an opinion on an aspect of health that is not compatible with established facts; does that deem me to be professionally irresponsible?

I am a registered practising pharmacist in SVG for 36 unblemished years. If, according to you, I have committed acts of misconduct that are tantamount to “professional irresponsibility”, the decent thing for you to do is to make the representation to the Pharmacy Council, let them make the determination and if need be have my licence revoked. You have instead taken to the public media, a newspaper, among others, to deem me to be professionally irresponsible. In the absence of you lodging a complaint to the Pharmacy Council, I am asking that you use the same medium/media through which you published such statements to retract same.

I am,

Matthew Thomas