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 practice.

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 department.

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 hospital.

"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 412-851-1867.

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: