Cuba HealthcareFor those who still insist on calling it an economic embargo, a glance at the report on the effects of this irrational U.S. policy in areas such as public health, due to be presented next month at the UN, is enough to dismiss this euphemism or at the very least call it into question.

In a country such as Cuba, where the health system is a universal right for all without discrimination rather than a business that lines a few pockets, the prohibitions or difficulties in acquiring certain medicines, replacement parts for diagnostic and medical equipment, instruments and other supplies, can not in any way be seen as simple economic sanctions.

 The report on resolution 68/8 of the United Nations General Assembly entitled, “The need to put an end to the Economic, Commerical and Financial Blockade imposed by the United States of America on Cuba,” highlights that only some of the effects can be calculated in monetary terms, but these are by no means insignificant.

According to estimates by the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), between April 2013 and June 2014, the economic cost of the blockade on Cuba was 66.5 million dollars, not to mention the fact that each of the obstacles or limitations the blockade implies puts human lives at risk.

Amongst the examples highlighted in the report are the difficulties faced by the National Center for Medical Genetics in purchasing equipment and reagents necessary for the adequate functioning of its laboratories, which has direct repercussions on the development of the national program for diagnosis, control and prevention of genetic diseases and congenital disorders.

The Molecular Biology Laboratory in particular, faces a series of obstacles in acquiring reagents supplied by U.S. firms. Amongst these are single-strand conformation polymorphism gels (SSCP) and blood pressure monitors with silver, used for diagnosis of diseases such as cystic fibrosis, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, galactosemia and others.

Added to these is the complete medium Amniomax, used to cultivate prenatal human cells, which guarantees the study of chromosomes in pregnant women over the age of 37 or with diseases identified by ultrasounds. A further institution, the William Soler Children’s Heart Center, has been unable to acquire top quality nutrients such as aminosteril, which is particularly important for pre and post surgery treatment of undernourished patients with complex and critical heart diseases. This medicine is only produced by ABBOTT Laboratories, a U.S. company.

The Institute of Hematology and Immunology is responsible for diagnosing an average of 72 cases of leukemia in children per year, 75 % of which are acute lymphoids. The center is unable to access the best treatment for these conditions, L-asparaginase enzyme, or derive it from the Escherichia coli bacteria, as they are banned in Cuba due to being produced in the United States.

These situations and the right to life are motives for the demand for an end to the blockade, reiterated every year. These are not economic sanctions, as those attempting to justify them have claimed over the past five decades, but rather represent a cruel policy which seeks to break the will of a country that chose to decide its own destiny by any means necessary.

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