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Cuban Healthcare Delivers, Experts Say

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A decades-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba forced it to develop its own molecular biology industry, which produces innovative drugs that prevent rejection in transplants.

Cuba has developed the world's first Meningitis B vaccine which is available in Third World countries but not in Europe or the United States due to U.S. sanctions.

Hickey said Cuba's health care budget was no larger that his hospital's.

"Cuba looks after 11 million with the same budget and produces better health care in terms of life expectancy, infant mortality and vaccination rates than we do," he said.

Cuban experts also regret that medical genetics is a much ignored field in Latin America.

At the 3rd International Conference in Congenital Defects and Disabilities of Developing Countries in Brazil a few days ago, Cuba stood out from the very first moment because it is the only country which has integrated genetics to the health program and has obtained concrete results. There was a stir among delegates to when copies of the Cuban Review of Communitary Genetics were distributed.

Director of the National Institute of Medical Genetics in Cuba, Dr. Beatriz Marcheco Teruel, said the island was willing to contribute to the development of the specialty in Latin America.

Dr. Marcheco recalled that over 100,000 Cuban health workers were serving in 103 nations around the world and noted that the medical genetics program had not yet been fully implemented in the region despite the recommendations made by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr. Marcheco pointed out that 5 out of 100 new born babies were born with genetic malformations which could lead to death. She further added that Cuba had developed over the last 25 years a medical genetics program to prevent many of these problems.


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