November 6, 2009

Cuban Science: Victim of US Blockade


Cuban Vice-president of the Council of Ministers José Ramón Fernández  
underscored that Cuba-US scientific exchange restrictions clearly  
illustrate the anachronism of the US blockade of the island.

Biolab Internacional won the prize for the most visited stand, during  
the closing ceremony of the Biotechnology 2009 Congress in Havana.

The 2009 Biotechnology Congress opened on Monday in Havana, gathering  
nearly 500 experts from over 300 countries, including two Nobel  
laureates. It’s worth noting the scant attendance of American  
scientists, who were denied travel to Cuba, in contrast to the large  
number of participants coming from other countries.

Among the personalities attending the Congress International award  
winners Robert Huber (Chemistry, 1988) and Harald zur Hausen  
(Physiology and Medicine, 2008). They both gave masterly lectures at  
the event.

Fernández said Cuba produces 85 percent of the medicines it consumes,  
which proofs the effectiveness of the biotechnological development  
program designed by Fidel Castro in the early 1980’s.

Cuba’s biotechnological industry produces eight of the eleven vaccines  
which are administered to Cubans as part of the immunity national  
program. “Over the last ten years,” Fernandez said, ”one of these  
vaccines has prevented children under five from contracting hepatitis  
B, considerably reducing the effects of this disease.”

He later referred to Heberprot-P, a Cuban medication currently being  
used on the island and Venezuela to treat severe ulcers in diabetic  
patients who face the risk of amputation.

In addition, Cuba will soon secure the patent of a liquid pentavalent  
vaccine which only a handful of companies worldwide produce. It will  
contribute to improve the people’s quality of life.

Our scientists are also working on a hepatitis C vaccine and a number  
of cancer therapies, he stated.

Health Minister José Ramón Balaguer, president of the Cuban Science  
Academy Ismael Clark and other high officials and personalities also  
attended the Congress' closing session.

Cuban Biotechnology Could Help US Patients
Cuba develops and produces 85% of the medicaments it consumes. It is  
also building a solid heritage of knowledge by serving humanity in the  
scientific and pharmaceutical fields.
By: Mileyda Menéndez Dávila

Email: [log in to unmask]

2009-11-06 | 13:38:25 EST

The United States is the only nation in the world that cannot benefit  
from the Cuban biotechnological achievements. Thousand of Americans  
suffer or die by Hepatitis B or Diabetic Ulcers, diseases for which  
Cuba has the required treatment, and scores of US scientists miss the  
profitable intellectual exchange opportunity that it promotes.

By keeping up the blockade at all costs, the US government itself  
establishes the rules for such an irrational limitation, which hinders  
but does not stop the biotechnological development of our country.

As a proof, 80 foreign delegates expressed their countries interest of  
taking part in the dozens of front line projects boosted by the Cuban  
scientific complexes. They were presented at the Havana 2009  
Biotechnology Congress, brought to a close yesterday by José Ramón  
Fernández, Vice-President of the Council of Ministers, and Health  
Minister, Dr. José Ramón Balaguer.

Fernández highlighted the Cuban scientific and pharmaceutical  
industry’s vocation of building a solid heritage of knowledge to serve  
humanity. He also pointed out that the Cuban medicaments are made in  
plants certified by international organizations like WHO.

Furthermore, they are working on making new cheaper products, which  
can be acquired by the third world countries, which have numerous  
chronic diseases like Cancer, cardiovascular or infectious like  
Dengue, HIV, the Human Papilloma virus and Hepatitis C.
Doctors come from Cuba to visit St. Clair Hospital

Thursday, November 05, 2009

By Kate McCaffrey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

About 400 people visit the emergency room every day at the Hospital  
Pediatrico William Soler in Havana, Cuba.

Here in the South Hills, St. Clair Hospital gets about 175 patients a  
day to its ER.

So when Cuban doctors Luis Orlando Rodriguez and Carmen Cuba visited  
St. Clair on Friday, they were eager to learn how the Mt. Lebanon  
hospital's emergency department went from being nationally ranked in  
the 61 percentile for patient satisfaction in 2008 to the top 1  
percent. The survey was conducted by Press Ganey, an independent,  
nationwide survey company.

"We haven't slept in five days -- work, work, work. We wanted to come  
here, to learn even more," Dr. Rodriguez, a urologist and general  
director of Hospital Pediatrico, said in Spanish. Dr. Cuba, a director  
in Cuba's Ministry of Health, translated for him.

Global Links, a nonprofit organization that donates hospital supplies  
to Third World countries, organized and paid for the trip. Dr.  
Rodriguez and Dr. Cuba were among six doctors visiting Pittsburgh for  
five days of observation and training.

The physicians said that health care in Cuba often is lauded as  
exemplary, with life expectancies and infant mortality rates the same  
or better than the United States. Doctors in Cuba are trained for  
free, provided they agree to return to their village or community to  

They learned that the climb in St. Clair's rankings is a result of  
implementing the so-called Toyota Process about 18 months ago.

The Toyota Process is a business model named after the Toyota car  
company, which first implemented it. It is based on continual  
improvement through streamlining processes and customer satisfaction.

When Tania Lyons, St. Clair's director of organizational performance  
improvement, was hired, patients coming to St. Clair's ER could be  
routed to any number of places: to triage, back to the waiting room,  
to registration, to a treatment room or elsewhere.

A year ago, she gathered a group of St. Clair Hospital emergency  
department nurses, doctors, managers and registration staff -- from  
the night and day shifts -- into one room for one day with one  
purpose: to figure out how to get Patient X from the waiting room to  
triage to a treatment room in that order every time.

The result was the Toyota Process in action and, administrators claim,  
much happier patients.

Officials said the average wait for a patient to be taken to a  
treatment room has dropped from 49 to four minutes. And the average  
time to see a doctor is 28 minutes, down from 76.

"Because [the staff] designed it, they like it. There's less stress,  
less confusion and everything goes faster," she said, presenting a  
Power Point of the process to visiting doctors and other staff.

"This is the only way to improve," Dr. Rodriguez said. "Because they  
made it, they can't criticize."

After a tour of the emergency department, Dr. Rodriguez was impressed  
by the hospital's equipment.

"With this infrastructure, we'd be blessed. You must be very proud to  
have it. Maybe you don't know what you have because you don't realize  
what other people lack," Dr. Cuba said.

Health care in Cuba is paid for by the government, which is one reason  
Dr. Rodriguez's hospital gets so many visitors to its emergency  

Dr. Cuba said Cubans go to the ER "for everything," including getting  
a second opinion or in hopes of finding a better doctor. She said it  
takes only about 20 minutes to process patients because hospital staff  
is not hindered by health insurance forms and paperwork.

Ms. Lyons would like to implement the Toyota Process elsewhere in the  

"A lot of nurses say the [emergency department] is different, that  
their area won't change. But the Toyota process will work anywhere,"  
she said. "This is just the beginning."

Kate McCaffrey can be reached at [log in to unmask] or  

Read more:
Haiti And Cuba Will Continue To Report The Lowest Levels Of Broadband  
Subscriptions In The Caribbean
New report provides detailed analysis of the Telecommunications market

Published on November 04, 2009

by Press Office

( and OfficialWire)


  Cuba remains a market to watch owing to the possible changes that a  
renewed relationship with the US could bring. With considerable  
potential and low penetration rates it is a market that would benefit  
from competition and closer links to other countries. Already mobile  
growth looks set to take off after restrictions were lifted on mobile  
ownership and the number of net additions each quarter continues to  
increase, indicating a voracious appetite for mobile services in the  
market. Further growth can be expected across the market. Even with  
upgrades to our forecasts the Cuban market has the ability to grow  
even faster but it is believed that affordability remains a key issue  
for many Cubans, holding the market back.

The Caribbean’s only other monopoly market, Bahamas, looks set to  
finally see privatisation take place by the end of 2009 if government  
plans are to go ahead. Earlier failed attempts to sell 51% of the  
Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) may have put off some  
potential investors and the already high penetration rate will make  
the market a challenge for any new entrants but the relatively wealthy  
population makes this an attractive prospect. Competition for the  
mobile market is not set to enter until two years after privatisation  
takes place and the prospects for growth for any new entrant are low  
but it is still believed there are opportunities to grow and the  
market will welcome new competitors.

The report has revised the forecasts for Trinidad and Tobago  
considerably following the release of 2008 subscriber numbers putting  
the penetration rate at 138%. This is the highest in the region and it  
is expected further growth to be minimal with a decline beginning in  
2012. While there have been cases of mobile markets continuing to  
grow, way past 138%, bmobile is already losing subscribers and the  
report does not believe that the market can sustain much more growth.

With such a range of markets in the Caribbean it is hard to draw any  
generalisations but the overall trends for the region see decline for  
the majority of fixed-line markets owing to the already high  
penetration rates for mobile services. The mobile market is often the  
most competitive market and this has driven fast growth in the past.  
Future increases will come from offering advanced services such as  
mobile broadband, maintaining interest in mobile services.

The strongest growth patterns will be seen in broadband services with  
expectations of strong growth to be seen across the region. Haiti and  
Cuba will continue to report the lowest levels of broadband  
subscriptions as pricing and availability remain key issues.

Caribbean Telecommunications Report Q4 2009: