Latin American Medicine Day: Health for Everyone

On December 3, the Latin American Medicine Day *, it’s necessary to make a brief summary of Cuba's solidarity in health, a principle the Revolution put into practice since its early days. Let’s recall the aid to Chile, when the earthquake of 1960 hit, and the arrival in Algeria with a small group of professionals in 1962.

Since then, this small island is an example in medical assistance to other nations, not just providing humanitarian aid, at key moments of natural disasters, or outbreaks, but in the building of hospitals, training of professionals and teachers of different specialties.

During these years, solidarity in this field has been present in 164 countries and today it’s kept in more than 60 countries with about 30 thousand employees.

The support given to Africa in 2014 was an unprecedented event. Back then the continent was hit by a severe cholera epidemic and, in response to the call of the UN and the World Health Organization, the Cuban government sent a contingent of 250 specialists to several countries, where the threat of infection and death were real.

An element that contributed a lot to the collaboration has been the International
Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics Henry Reeve, constituted on September 19th, 2005 by the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro. Henry Reeves Contingent has been present in 21 countries with 24 medical brigades.

In this battle for health, the Miracle Mission, an ophthalmological program, led by the governments of Cuba and Venezuela which in its 15 years has treated almost 4 million patients in 16 countries, at present only 10 remains.

Domestically, Cuba has created an infrastructure to guarantee public health, with strong support for the primary care with the implementation - since January 1984 - of the Family Doctor-and-Nurse Program, with the objective of attending to people, families and communities.

The Family Doctor-and-Nurse Program, even with imperfections, has had a favorable impact on health indicators of Cubans.

This has allowed to guarantee a total coverage of health care, with a total of 10,869 Doctor-and-Nurse offices, and 449 polyclinics.

Although not all goals have been achieved regarding this Program, the Ministry of Public Health has currently implemented a plan for its improvement, and is worth mentioning that in more than three decades it has played a key role in the improvement of health of the population.

Cuba allots the 27% of its budget to Health and Social Assistance, and around 11% of its GDP. Therefore, its figures behave similarly to developed countries.

In Cuba 14 infectious diseases have been eliminated; the infant mortality rate remains below five deaths under one year per thousand live births, and life expectancy at birth is 78, 45 years in general: 80 years for women and 76 for men.

The country has 84.8 doctors and 16.8 dentists for every 10 thousand inhabitants.

The National Health System comprises 150 hospitals, 110 IC wards, 120 municipal intensive wards, 449 polyclinics, 111 dentist clinics, 131 maternity homes, 12 research institutes, 690 medical libraries, 155 nursing homes, 293 elder homes, 52 geriatric services, and 30 psychopedagogical medical centers.

Such data are a pride; unthinkable achievements before 1959, which have only been possible through the political will of our sovereign State. For all the above mentioned, the country has enough reasons to celebrate the Latin American Medicine Day, not with slogans, but with tangible results.

The political will of the Cuban State and, especially, of its historical leader Fidel Castro Ruz, have made these achievements of our public health possible, an example for many regions of the planet.

* Date established in honor of the birth of the renowned Cuban scientist Dr. Carlos Juan Finlay, who discovered that yellow fever was transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. His example is a beacon for those who just like him, devote their lives to research, to fight diseases, and to make medical care a daily right.

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Cuba will Host the Organ Donor Day

It’s emphasized the importance of raising public awareness in order to understand that the salvation of millions of people depends on their own actions.

On November 21st, Cuba will be the world headquarters for the activities on the World Day for the Donation of Organs, Tissues and Transplants, as the climax for the meeting of the Ibero-American Network of Donation and Transplantation, scheduled for November 18-20 with venue at the International Health Center La Pradera.

Nephrology specialist Antonio Enamorado Casanova, national coordinator of the Transplant Program of the Ministry of Public Health, said that representatives from 38 countries will participate in this meeting, in addition to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

World Organ, Tissue and Transplant Donation Day * seeks to raise awareness and draw attention to the need to donate organs and tissues, as millions of people in the world depend on such a procedure to save their lives.

The specialist insisted on the importance of raising public awareness about this topic, which goes beyond the political will of the States and actions of health systems, and doctors.

He commented that our country has a high level of education, which might be useful in order for citizens to understand that it’s them the only ones who can influence the solution of health problems and increase the quality of life of patients.

«We could have a lot of money, millions; well-trained doctors, studied, and being in hospitals looking at our faces, if society does not contribute to the solution of the problem ».

He criticized the position and ignorance regarding this matter, because, despite the fact that Cuba has been doing transplants for many years, the population is not educated as to the importance of donating the organs.

He informed that at present in the country (both children and adults) there are more than 3,000 patients connected to dialysis machines, waiting for a kidney to be transplanted; hundreds of patients waiting for a cornea; dozens waiting for a liver.

Cuba, in 1972, registered the first kidney transplant, a program that has been on at the Institute of Nephrology. And in the mid 80’s, the first heart transplant was done.

So far this year about 185 kidney transplants, 180 cornea, 10 liver, 1 heart and 40 bone marrow transplants have been carried out.

«The need quadruples or quintuples what we do today. However, the main limitation is not economic, but the availability of organs,”he emphasized.

Undoubtedly, it’s a complex issue that has many viewpoints. It’s essential to understand the subject and the sensitivity of making a call, even in the most difficult moments, when facing the loss of a relative.

* On October 14 each year, since 2005, the World Organ, Tissue and Transplant Donation Day is commemorated. This date was established by WHO, with the purpose of encouraging the desire to be donors and thus save the lives of other less fortunate people in regards to physical health.

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Foreign Minister ratifies Cuba's commitment to health and environment

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez reaffirmed his country's commitment to social welfare and environmental protection as part of the high-level meeting on universal health coverage at the UN.

"Cuba present at #UNGA74. We will reaffirm our commitment to #HealthForAll, #ClimateAction and efforts to advance towards a democratic, just and equitable international order that responds to the demand for peace, sovereignty and sustainable development of our people," Rodriguez stressed on Twitter.

Ana Silvia Rodriguez, Alternate Permanent Representative of Cuba to the UN, confirmed also that during the meeting the Cuban delegation will discuss Cuba's achievements in the area and cooperation despite the blockade imposed by the US government on this Caribbean country.

The Cuban FM arrived in New York on Saturday to participate in the high-level segment of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, according to Cubaminrex website.

The Cuban delegation is also represented by the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anayansi Rodriguez; the General Director of the United States department, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio; and other officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the UN.

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"As is always the case with Cuban cooperators in other parts of the world, in the face of these disasters, everyone will [also] contribute their efforts in the recovery stage."

Cuba’s government confirmed on Wednesday that they have sent a number of doctors and teachers to areas of the Bahamas which have been hit by Hurricane Dorian. The Cuban workers will assist local authorities in emergency relief, though they will also stay afterwards to help rebuild the country’s medical and education services in the affected areas.

Cuba’s ambassador to the Bahamas Ismara Vargas spoke to Prensa Latina on Wednesday, confirming that over 60 Cuban workers have been sent to the Bahamas so far. They have been sent to Abaco and Grand Bahama, the areas of the country that have been hit hardest by Hurricane Dorian.

Vargas commented, "as is always the case with Cuban cooperators in other parts of the world, in the face of these disasters, everyone will [also] contribute their efforts in the recovery stage."

Cuban Medical internationalism is a legacy of the revolution. Huge numbers of doctors are sent abroad to work across the global south, offering medical services to low income and isolated communities around the world.

Those doctors and teachers will face a tough challenge in the Bahamas. Hurricane Dorian has devastated the Caribbean, and is the worst storm the Bahamas has had to face. The death toll is currently at 7, with as many as 13,000 homes in the country now destroyed or severely damaged, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Dorian is expected to reach the U.S. where huge evacuation operations have begun.

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Experts from 16 Countries in Obstetrics and Gynecology Event in Cuba

Some 130 specialists from 16 countries in Latin America, Europe and the United States will participate in the 17th Congress of the Cuban Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, June 18-21, the event hosts reported in Havan Tuesday.

The event will gather gynecologists, obstetricians, endocrinologists, intensivists and other experts from countries such as Panama, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Spain and Greece, as well as more than 200 Cuban doctors.

It will include a course on the medical and legal aspects of obstetrics and gynecology, as part of a project of good practices for the prevention of legal complaints and lawsuits, Andres Breto, President of the organizing committee, said in a press conference.

U.S. professors such as Ted Louis Anderson, current president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Mark DeFrancesco, who held the presidency of this college from 2015 to 2016 will prestige the congress.

Topics such as sexual and reproductive health, attention to infertile couples and current diagnostic issues will be the focus of discussions at the forum.

The congress is hosted by the Latin American Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology Societies, the Pan American Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund and the Cuban Society for Family Development, among other institutions.

Other congresses will be held in parallel to this forum, such as the 10th Congress on Perinatology and Family Planning, the 7th Congress on Child and Adolescent Reproductive Health, the 7th Congress on Climacterium and Menopause, as well as the 7th Congress on Ultrasonography in Gynecology and Obstetrics and the 6th Congress on Pathology of the Lower Genital Tract and Colposcopy.

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Russia, Cuba Sign Cooperation MoU on Health

Russia and Cuba have signed a memorandum of cooperation on health to treat cancer patients, sources from the Russian National Medical Research Radiological Center reported on Friday.

Cuban Deputy Minister Marcia Cobas Ruiz and General Director of the Russian National Medical Research Radiological Center of the Ministry of Health and Russian chief oncologist, Andrei Kaprin, signed the aforementioned document.

The objective of the memorandum is to develop scientific and clinical cooperation in fighting oncological diseases.

The document also seeks to carry out joint programs with the aim of strengthening and developing state-of-the-art technologies to treat cancer patients, exchanging scientific and clinical experience, as well as carrying out joint research.


Spread of cancer is worrisome for everyone and therefore collaboration among doctors should have no political nor any other kind of limitations, Kaprin said, quoted by Moscow television.

Our institutions have now extensive experience in the diagnosis, treatment and research of malignant tumors and I am sure that cooperation in this area will have productive results, the Russian specialist said.

Russia and Cuba are currently expanding and reinforcing cooperation in almost all possible branches, including economic, commercial, agricultural, transport, energy, mining, health, scientific and cultural, among others.

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Happy childhood memories linked to better health later in life

People who have fond memories of childhood, specifically their relationships with their parents, tend to have better health, less depression and fewer chronic illnesses as older adults, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

"We know that memory plays a huge part in how we make sense of the world -- how we organize our past experiences and how we judge how we should act in the future. As a result, there are a lot of different ways that our memories of the past can guide us," said William J. Chopik, PhD, from Michigan State University and lead author of the study. "We found that good memories seem to have a positive effect on health and well-being, possibly through the ways that they reduce stress or help us maintain healthy choices in life."

The findings were published in the journal Health Psychology.

Previous research has shown a positive relationship between good memories and good health in young adults, including higher quality of work and personal relationships, lower substance use, lower depression and fewer health problems, according to Chopik. He and his co-author, Robin Edelstein, PhD, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, wanted to see how this would apply to older adults.

Also, much of the existing research focused on mothers and rarely examined the role of fathers in child development. Chopik and Edelstein sought to expand on the existing studies to include participants' reflections of their relationships with both parents.

The researchers used data from two nationally representative samples, the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States and the Health and Retirement Study, with a total of more than 22,000 participants. The first study followed adults in their mid-40s for 18 years and the second followed adults 50 and over for six years. The surveys included questions about perceptions of parental affection, overall health, chronic conditions and depressive symptoms.

Participants in both groups who reported remembering higher levels of affection from their mothers in early childhood experienced better physical health and fewer depressive symptoms later in life. Those who reported memories with more support from their fathers also experienced fewer depressive symptoms, according to Chopik.

"The most surprising finding was that we thought the effects would fade over time because participants were trying to recall things that happened sometimes over 50 years ago. One might expect childhood memories to matter less and less over time, but these memories still predicted better physical and mental health when people were in middle age and older adulthood," said Chopik.

There was a stronger association in people who reported a more loving relationship with their mothers, noted Chopik, but that might change.

"These results may reflect the broader cultural circumstances of the time when the participants were raised because mothers were most likely the primary caregivers," said Edelstein. "With shifting cultural norms about the role of fathers in caregiving, it is possible that results from future studies of people born in more recent years will focus more on relationships with their fathers."

Chopik and Edelstein found that participants with positive childhood memories also had fewer chronic conditions in the first study of 7,100 people, but not in the second study of 15,200, making the results less straightforward

That may be because chronic conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease and high blood pressure were rare in both samples, said Chopik. Future studies in this area could focus more closely on childhood memories in older adults with chronic conditions.

Story Source:

Materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

With Life On the Shoulder

Come hell or high water, nameless and committed crews travel the cities every day distributing door-to-door of patients oxygen bottles that guarantee their lives.

It doesn't matter if it’s raining or overcasted, neither if there’s no electricity and they have to climb six flight of dark stairs; anyway, they will be there every day with the oxygen bottles on the shoulder.

After getting around those and other obstacles like mad dogs or shattered stair steps, they will call punctual to the house where a Cuban awaits for the oxygen that will allow him to keep living.

Eduardo Mario Blasco, driver of the crew, explains that they work under the Company of Industrial Gases, but it’s MINSAP the one that hands down the list of patients.

The fleet of almost 15 or 20 trucks has its base in Guanabacoa and, after the daily meeting, they depart to distribute life. “We go around the entire Havana city and also Mayabeque, Artemisa, and Güines."

Every day we distribute a rate of 40 large bottles, "but there are days of 60 and 70. We have odd hours either early morning or night time. I have had back-to-back days because the truck broke."

Eduardo Mario has worked in this for six years, before that he was a truck driver for 30 years. On board the truck prepared to transport the large bottles also go two young loaders.

"There aren’t Saturdays neither Sundays in this job, journalist. This is really a matter of life or death; if you don’t change an empty bottle for a full one, simply the sick person can die".

Says Danilo González, 27 years old, loader.

“It’s true that sometimes one feels like staying asleep, of not getting wet by rain, or of not climbing those stairways with more than a hundred pounds on shoulders. But it’s a humanitarian matter, one understands well when looking at the situation of other people who are waiting for you".

- Have there been cases where a relationship of friendship is created?

- Almost all of them. We call them through our mobiles, paying us, to know if we can stop by, if the door is locked; because the bottle must be set next to the patient ‘s bed.

- How many stairs do you climb daily?

- Countless because most of our patients live in Plaza, Centro Habana and Habana Vieja municipalities, where there are plenty of tall buildings. If we have five houses at ground level in the deliveries, that is a win. Everything is upstairs , downstairs five or six floors, because there aren’t many elevators.

- What do you friends tell you about your work?

- They simply stay silent. They know I am a loader, but they don’t imagine the real work I do. Those who see me on the street might think what’s so hard about getting carried around on a truck, but it’s not like that. It’s hard, besides the physical effort, you encounter sad stories, and also the treatment of a few patients.

Although, regularly, tight relationships are created, almost of familiarity. There are always, of course says the loader, those who protest when you deliver the oxygen bottle very early and they wanted to sleep later into the morning.

"Sometimes – says Danilo - we have arrived late at night at a house because the truck broke and when you finally arrive at the place, after such ordeals, they yell at you and complain, they tell you "are these hours to bring the oxygen, you must wait until tomorrow... nobody will wake up at this hour”.

"One can get mad at hearing those words, but you must think it over and tell yourself that is part of the job, where you care about other people, but they don’t always care about us."

Luckily, situations like this one are numbered with one hand.

The truck driver remembers that " we have cases where hot coffee and cool water are plentiful. One build friendships, and there are times when you are given a t-shirt, a pair of pants... "

Every day of the world

Eduardo Mario, the truck driver, comments of possible hazards in the job: "Grease is a mortal enemy of oxygen. The bottles cannot be manipulated neither with grease neither oil in the hands, nothing that contains lubricants, because they are flammable."

- Have you ever had an accident?

- Well, a bottle once fell on my foot, but those occupational hazards... Because I just not only sit behind the wheel, I also help downloading the bottles.

"The two boys and me have also made some sort of a family. We are neighbors, they live next to the factory and in this job which is every day of the world, I take advantage and I explain things to them.

“I tell them we don't distribute wood, neither iron, nor cement; that this is a job for the person who needs it as matter of life or death, hence responsibility to the job comes first. I will soon turn 60 years old, but I watched them be born and I have seen them grown to become good people."

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