Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Healthcare Helps Boost Cuba's Foreign Currency

Medical Know-how Boosts Cuba's Wealth
By: Tom Fawthrop
BBC News, Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Cuba’s growing $1 billion tourism industry may soon be overtaken by its healthcare sector, including biotechnology joint ventures, vaccine reports, and the provision of health services to other countries.

Cuba is arguably the world leader in cancer research and treatment. Biotech firms in Germany and the U.S. (after Washington made an exception to its trade embargo) are currently conducting clinical trials of Cuban anti-cancer drugs.

Cuba earns income from the fees of foreign patients and by exporting medical supplies and equipment. Also, in 2005, Cuba and China opened a joint venture technology plant in China, with Cuba providing the transfer of cancer treatment technology.

Since 1980, Cuba has seen the health care sector as a potential source of income. During the 1990s, Cuba became the first country to market and develop a vaccine for meningitis B. The exportation of its meningitis B vaccine and its hepatitis B vaccine has sent Cuba’s medical export earnings soaring.

Approximately 25,000 Cuban doctors are abroad in 68 countries operating humanitarian missions, including earthquake and tsunami relief. Some missions, such as in South Africa where Cuba is assisting the national health care system, bring in revenue to Cuba’s health ministry. Under a recent agreement, Cuba sent 14,000 doctors to provide free health care to Venezuela’s poor, in exchange for Venezuela decreasing its oil bill to Cuba by up to a quarter over a 15-year period. In addition, last year 1,800 doctors from 47 developing countries graduated in Cuba.

According to the World Health Organization, Cuba provides a doctor for every 170 residents, where the U.S. ration is 1 to 188. Nevertheless, some Cubans who have become accustomed to a free comprehensive healthcare system have felt an impact from the huge outflow of doctors.

"I want to see all Cuban cancer patients receive free treatment, so we need money to finance our health service and to improve our living standards ... Our science is part of the economy." – Dr. Rolando Perez, cancer specialist at the Center for Molecular Immunology.

3 comments:

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

great propaganda. Leni RIfenstahl would be proud. If you're interested in seeing how Cubans receive their healthcare see therealcuba.com

Janel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Colorado Health Insurance said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system as we are in a major crisis and health insurance is a major aspect to many.