MEDICC Sees New Opportunities for Improved Healthcare on the Anniversary of Restored US-Cuba Diplomatic Relations

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US embargo and policies still limit Americans from benefitting from Cuban medical advances.

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We see tremendous health benefits for Americans if we took full advantage of restored diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC) marked the anniversary of the historic announcement of restored diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba with optimism that better health for people in both countries can be achieved with greater cooperation, including the US licensing of Cuban medications.

“We see tremendous health benefits for Americans if we took full advantage of restored diplomatic relations between the two countries,” said MEDICC executive director Dr. Pierre LaRamée. “With the relaxing of travel restrictions and more open environment, limited clinical trials are now taking place on a promising Cuban lung cancer vaccine that could extend the lives for many; but the embargo and current policies still limit American access to many lifesaving treatments.”

There are numerous Cuban innovations, such as a treatment for diabetic foot ulcers that prevent amputations, which could help patients in this country if Cuban medications were subject to the same regulatory process as other foreign medications. Currently, there are extra regulations and barriers applied to Cuban drugs due to the US embargo that has been in place since 1962.

“The US embargo has harmed both countries due to the tightly restricted sales of medicines and medical equipment,” added LaRamée. “Patients have not benefitted from medical advances and commercial opportunities have also been denied. While there has been some positive movement on the business and travel fronts, the issue of health and medicine has been left on the sidelines.”

A recent MEDICC policy briefing on Capitol Hill reported on Cuban advances that can improve the health of Americans such as new vaccines and medications and disaster risk-reduction strategies that save lives and property after hurricanes. A full video of the briefing is available at https://www.youtube.com/user/mediccglobal

Bi-lateral policy briefings are also occurring in Havana. MEDICC is convening panels on US-Cuba health cooperation this week at the annual Research Center for International Politics (CIPI) 14th edition series of talks on Cuba and US foreign policy. US experts from Harvard Medical School, Roswell Park Cancer Center, and others, join their Cuban counterparts from the Molecular Immunology Center, Pedro Kourí Tropical Medicine Institute, and other leading Cuban institutions to discuss concrete steps to improving health in both countries.

MEDIA INQUIRIES: Dr. LaRamée is available for interviews. Please contact: Jeannie Barbieri-Low for availability at: (805) 233-7574.

About Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba
Since 1997, MEDICC has worked to enhance cooperation among the US, Cuban and global health communities aimed at better health outcomes and equity. MEDICC produced the feature film ¡Salud! and publishes the MEDLINE-indexed journal MEDICC Review. MEDICC supports research in Cuba by US health professionals, assists US students and graduates of Havana’s Latin American Medical School to return to US underserved communities, and organizes Community Partnerships for Health Equity to improve health care and access in communities including: South Los Angeles and Oakland, CA; Albuquerque, NM; Bronx, New York; Summit County, Ohio; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Red Mesa, Navajo Nation; as well as with four California Endowment Building Healthy Communities sites (Kern County, Del Norte County, San Diego and South Los Angeles). See: http://www.medicc.org and http://www.medicc.org/mediccreview

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Jeannie Barbieri-Low
MEDICC
since: 01/2010
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