Cuban health brigade in Haiti / Photo Credit: Peoplesworld / Flickr / CC-BY-NC
Memorandum of Under-standing Between the Department of Health and Human Service of the United States of America and the Ministry of Public Health of the Republic of Cuba
(U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, JUNE 13, 2016)
In an effort to deepen collaboration on public health between the two nations, the United States and Cuba signed a memorandum of understanding stating their commitment to researching, treating, and battling various diseases such as cancer, Ebola, Zika, and other epidemics that pose a threat to the region. The memorandum also places an emphasis on cooperating to develop biomedical treatments that address both public health and human services issues. The two nations agreed to cooperative projects, the sharing of information and best practices, exchanges of scientists and health officials, and consultations and conferences.
A Safer, Healthier Future Through U.S.-Cuba Cooperation
By the Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC White Paper, February 18, 2016)
In this paper, MEDICC outlines specific health and safety measures that President Obama can take to benefit the United States and Cuba. They discuss the precedent set by President George H.W. Bush, whose policies allowed for increased cooperation between U.S. pharmaceutical companies and Cuban-developed vaccines. The paper argues that the President should consider seven main actions, including 1) authorization for Cuban-developed biotech and other medical innovations for use in the United States, 2) authorization for U.S. institutions to pursue research and joint ventures with Cuban institutions, 3) authorization for U.S. companies to carry out clinical trials on the island, 4) permission for U.S. nationals to travel to Cuba for medical treatment, and 5) authorization for more U.S. students in health professions to study at Cuban academic institutions.
This article showcases one of the many new opportunities for U.S.-Cuban cooperation in health care since the normalization announcements: collaboration in providing health services to Haiti. While Cuba has a long and renowned tradition of engaging in underserved countries to provide free medical services, collaboration with the United States could further benefit the Haitian health care system. The article also points out that collaboration with Cuba also provides U.S. doctors with the opportunity to witness some of the more innovative medical techniques and services provided by Cuban doctors.
Cuba ends mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis
By Jaime Gumbrecht (CNN, July 1, 2015)
Cuba is the first country in the world to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission, the World Health Organization announced. The country was also the first to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of syphilis. Cuba’s efforts include prenatal care, HIV and syphilis testing for pregnant women and their partners, treatment for women who test positive and their babies, cesarean deliveries and breastfeeding substitution.
Americans could soon be thanking Fidel Castro for their revolutionary cancer drugs
By Michael E. Miller (Washington Post, May 12, 2015)
Recent improvements in relations between Cuba and the U.S. are leading to agreements that will soon bring Cuban cancer drugs—including the Cimavax vaccine—to the United States. A Phase II trial from 2008 showed lung cancer patients who received the vaccine lived an average of four to six months longer than those who didn’t. The Cuban government has consistently received accolades for its pioneering medical and biotech research, which it has carried out despite a crippling U.S. embargo.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa precipitated a period of unexpected U.S.-Cuban cooperation, with Cuban doctors treating patients with the help of U.S. foreign aid. In this article, Garrett implores the United States and Cuba to continue normalizing relations by helping Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia rebuild and improve their medical infrastructure.
Renewed U.S.-Cuba Relations: Saving American Lives and Limbs?
By Gail Reed (Huffington Post, January 2015)
In this article, Reed discusses the diabetes medication Heberprot-P, which was developed in Cuba for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. Despite having already treated 165,000 patients and reducing risk of amputation by 75%, the drug is unavailable in the United States due to embargo restrictions. The article explains how the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control denied a license in 2010 and then licensed the drug only for clinical trials in 2014, making it impossible to sell the drug in the US even if the FDA approved the medication as safe and effective. The author describes how California-based nonprofit Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC) led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Havana to see Heberprot-P diabetes treatment at work.
This article reports on Cuba's deployment of doctors to West Africa to help combat the region's outbreak of Ebola. It discusses Cuba's health crisis response system, which gives graduates of the Cuban medical school the opportunity to volunteer for medical missions abroad. At the date of publication, Cuba had provided a total of 460 doctors and nurses to West Africa and had 164 still working there under the supervision of the World Health Organization.
By Ted Piccone (Brookings Institution, October 31, 2014)
Piccone opines with a qualified "yes" that the U.S. and Cuba's mutual commitment to providing medical aid to fight Ebola offers an ideal opportunity for them to join forces for the greater good.He cites not only precedents for this kind of cooperation (such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti), but also past challenges affecting current teamwork on health care issues. This piece was originally published by The Mark.
Cuba's Latin American Medical School: Can Socially-Accountable Medical Education Make a Difference?
By Conner Gorry (MEDICC Review, July 2012)
In this article, MEDICC explains the difficulties that Cuba's Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) has in tracking its graduates and measuring their impact on health and policy in their local context. Given that ELAM is the world's largest and most diverse medical school with students from over 65 countries, it is difficult to gauge its impact and track its graduates' trajectories. The article discusses how ELAM has worked to better its tracking processes, i.e. through using information technologies and partnering with THENnet. It also examines the experiences of ELAM doctors in Haiti, El Salvador, the United States, Honduras, and Argentina.
This peer-reviewed article analyzes the principles, practices, and outcomes of the Cuban healthcare system in order to inform the transformation of the healthcare system in the United States. The authors hope to help foster mutual awareness of the U.S. and Cuban healthcare systems, which has been limited by the long-term hostilities between the two countries. It discusses issues such as universal access to preventive care, community-based health, integration of public health into clinical medicine, and the social determinants of health.
By Gail Reed (Bulletin of the World Health Organization, May 2010)
This article discusses the Latin American Medical School's (ELAM) enrollment of students from outside Cuba, including the enrollment process, educational experience, and post-graduation trajectories of ELAM students. Since 2005, 7,248 physicians from 45 countries have received degrees from ELAM. The author notes that ELAM graduates are at work in countries across the world and have been accepted into residencies, including in the United States.
Cuba has played a major role in Haitian health care delivery, with Cuban doctors serving in the country since 1998, and the Latin American Medical School in Havana graduated hundreds of Haitians. Since the earthquake, that assistance has increased dramatically. This report claims that although Cuba and the United States often disagree, there is no reason the two cannot work together toward a common goal: to reduce the suffering of the Haitian people and to build a sustainable public health system.
Cuba’s HIV/AIDS Strategy: An Integrated, Rights-Based Approach
This paper discusses the Cuban's approach to address HIV, which like the nation’s public health system, is founded on the principal that health is a human right. In practice, this translates into a continuum of care through universal access to primary, secondary, and tertiary health services, government commitment to equalizing and improving social determinants, and scientific research and development aimed at advancing the population's health. Constitutional rights, including job and housing guarantees and anti-discrimination laws also play a role. Free, equitable access to care, a robust national biotechnology capability, and an educated citizenry with confidence in the public health system have helped contain the epidemic on the island.
Denial of Food and Medicine: The Impact of the U.S. Embargo on Health & Nutrition in Cuba | An Executive Summary
(American Association for World Health, March 1997)
This report from the American Association of World Health (AAWH)discusses findings of a multi-disciplinary research review about the implications of embargo restrictions on healthcare delivery and food security in Cuba (Whereas the full report consists of 300 pages of comprehensive study, this Executive Summary is an abridged version of 39 pages). AAWH concludes that the embargo has dramatically harmed the health and nutrition of many people in Cuba and led to considerable suffering and even deaths.