Monday, May 18, 2015

Cuba Part 5: Kingdom of Health & Medicine

A few days ago, Japan's Foreign Affairs Minster Fumio Kishida visited Havana and met with Dr. Carlos Manuel Guiterrez, President of Cuba-Japan Parliamentary Friendship League. Dr. Guiterrez is President of BioCubaFarma, a company engaged in preventive vaccine research and development. The meeting agenda was future possible collaboration with Japanese industries.

When I was researching the Cuban “Grandma” website, I sighted photos of a newly opened Cuban Hospital in Qatar with 400 Cuban doctors and nurses already working in cutting edge facilities. I initially thought the hospital was in Doha, but it is located in Dukhan, located on the other side of the peninsula. It is the center of Qatar’s onshore oil industry, 80 kilometers west of Doha, inside the Dawhat Salwah Bay. I learned this Cuban Hospital operates under Hamed Medical Corporation of Qatar (see YouTube video link below). We will know more about their activities soon, but I am sure they offer their expert medical services to neighboring countries, such as Saudi Arabia and of course, Qatar.

It is little known that Cuba dispatched more than 460 health professionals to West Africa to fight Ebola since its outbreak, of which 165 are working under the direction of the World Health Organization (WHO). The above mentioned “Grandma” site noted there were 15,000 volunteers from which 460 were carefully selected based on their prior experience in treating infectious diseases under emergency situations. They all went through rigorous training, including in the correct use of protective suits and proper handling of patients and medical waste.

The project was supervised under the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine. Dr. Kouri (1900-1964) the founder, is as famous as Dr. Carlos Finlay y Barres (1833-1915), the one who discovered that mosquitoes cause yellow fever. Many American soldiers during the US-Spanish War were victims of yellow fever.

Cuba has been aggressively training and developing medical professionals. Primary care and preventive medicine are their motto and the target is to become a truly sustainable society of welfare and health. Today Cuba is listed as one of the top nation, boasting 60 doctors per 10,000 people, twice more than that of Japan.

Cuba has been involved with the ALBA program, which started about 10 years ago, primarily in Venezuela. It stands for the Alliance Bolivarian for the People of our America. Bolivarian comes from Simon Bolivar (1783-1830), the Liberator and Past President of Gran Colombia. Under ALBA, Cuba has attracted thousands of health tourists from participating Caribbean and Latin American countries, gaining precious foreign income, strengthening solidarity and trust of neighboring countries.

Their “Mision Miraglo” program has had great success, notably with ocular surgeries for cataracts and glaucoma. Cuba has been so successful with their health care system that it was featured in Michael Moore’s 2007 documentary Sicko in the segment where Moore brought 911 volunteer rescuers suffering from respiratory problems to Cuba for free treatment.


YouTube Video of Hamed Medical Corporation

Cuban doctors fight Ebola

No comments: