Che Guevara’s daughter terms the U.S. blockade on Cuba as “criminal”, but says it has pushed the island country to develop alternatives in healthcare
THE HINDU- Medical professional and human rights advocate Aleida Guevara, daughter of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, on Wednesday said that the “criminal” blockade imposed by the U.S on Cuba has led to the island country developing alternatives in healthcare.
Interacting with students of the Asian College of Journalism, she said that Cuba had developed five vaccines for COVID-19. It was working on vaccines for pulmonary, prostate and breast cancers and also therapeutic medicines for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Apart from developing such medicines, she said that the country was also trying to find alternatives in homoeopathy, acupuncture and traditional Indian medicine.
She said that “blockade” was the right word to refer to the U.S.-imposed sanctions, which have been in effect for more than six decades, as the word “embargo” did not fully capture its effect. She said that the U.S. did not want Cuba to do business with any country.
Highlighting that the supply of food and medicines were the most affected due to the blockade, Ms. Guevara said that it was often the case that eight out of ten new drugs launched had a U.S. patent and hence could not be accessed by Cubans.
If a Cuban child needed a life-saving drug from the U.S., the country has to find five intermediaries to route the medicine through without the the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation catching a whiff of it, as any company selling medicines to Cuba can face severe sanctions. With each intermediary adding a cost, the medicine’s price would be exorbitant by the time it reached Cuba, she said.
As to the robustness of Cuba’s healthcare, she said that the free and universal system prioritised preventive care. The healthcare system started at the level of family doctors — who, accompanied by nurses, social workers and psychologists, regularly interacted with the local population — and went up to the level of municipal, provincial, and national institutes, as well as advanced investigation centres.