Cuba developing cancer vaccines, Alzheimer’s medicines

By Rumi Samuel Published on January 18, 2023
Cuba developing cancer vaccines, Alzheimer’s medicines

The 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 diseases. Apart from developing such medication, she said the country was also trying to find alternatives to 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 the U.S. did not want Cuba to do business with any country. 

Highlighting that the supply of food and medicines was 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.

Highlighting the robustness of Cuba’s healthcare, she said that the free and universal system prioritised preventive care. 

‘Hypocritical U.S. role in Ukraine’

On the Russia-Ukraine war, Ms Guevara said that there could be no justification for war as the ones who lost the most were the common people. Criticising the role of the U.S. in the war, she said that the country, which went “hysterical” and brought humanity to the verge of a world war because the USSR sent defence rockets to Cuba (during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis), was now supplying arms to Ukraine. 

Strongly affirming solidarity with Cuba, The Hindu Publishing Group director N. Ram said that the unprecedented blockade the country faced from the U.S. was an act of terrorism but was not often recognised as such. When Cuba faced a crisis after the breakup of the Soviet Union, he said that the Cuban solidarity movement in India, of which he was a part, managed to send 10,000 tonnes of wheat to the country. He recalled how Fidel Castro, on receiving it, termed it 10,000 tonnes of solidarity. 

Sashi Kumar, chairman of the Asian College of Journalism, said that the Cuban health system has become a byword for excellence and highlighted how Cuban doctors had served many other countries in need. He noted that it was essential to observe how the western media underreported Cuba’s achievements. He added that no other country was browbeaten so consistently and unjustly by the U.S. as Cuba. Yet, the country continued to keep the core values of revolution alive.

Rumi Samuel

Rumi Samuel

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