Affordable Healthcare in Cuba
Foreign self-pays seeking medical treatment flocking to Havana
As Cuba has been in the news recently, some wonder if Cuba has become any closer to being a viable medical travel destination for those who have health issues that require special attention. As a matter of fact Cuba has long been known for producing quality doctors and providing excellent in-budget medical services.
Cuban scientists are engaged in late-stage clinical trials in Europe for Heberprot-P, considered a potentially revolutionary medicine for diabetic foot ulcers. Other sectors in which Cuba can use its potential as a "medical power" are lung cancer treatment, cornea, kidney and bone marrow transplants and brain tissue transplants for Parkinson's disease patients.
At Havana's clinics, reserved for foreigners, they handle all types of medical specialties. And if an in-house expert is unavailable, one can be borrowed from another hospital.
Cuba closer to our own COVID-19 vaccine
Cuba's candidate vaccine was tested for the first time on human volunteers, precisely three researchers participating in its development. An initial evaluation revealed a strong immune response in all three. The central state enterprise management group BioCubaFarma reports having received permission to begin clinical trials of a Cuban candidate vaccine to prevent COVID-19, capable of producing a strong immune reaction to a SARS-COV-2 infection. Identified as FINLAY-FR-1, the vaccine project led by the Finlay Vaccine Institute, the Center for Molecular Immunology - both affiliated with BioCubaFarma – with the collaboration of the University of Havana's Chemical and Biomolecular Synthesis Laboratory, has satisfactorily concluded the drug's development stage and pre-clinical studies in animals, producing the scientific findings required to support authorization, by Cuba's Center for State Control of Medications, Medical Equipment and Devices (Cecmed), to conduct clinical trials.
Itolizumab monoclonal antibody to battle COVID-19
Itolizumab is a molecule that was developed in Cuba for treatment of lymphomas and leukemia. This antibody is able to block the proliferation and activation of t-lymphocytes, acting as an immunomodulator. As part of its active mechanisms, it can reduce the secretion of a group of inflammation mediators, known as pro-inflammatory cytokines. In Cuba it had been used successfully in the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Precisely, in clinical trials carried out in these autoimmune diseases, the monoclonal proved to be a very safe molecule, not causing adverse side effects in patients.
Biomodulina T Cuban medication to treat COVID-19 in older adults
A safe drug, developed and produced in Cuba, to treat infected patients and as a preventive for at-risk groups Biomodulina T does not prevent contagion with the new coronavirus, but rather helps stimulate the immune systems of individuals in vulnerable groups, to improve their response in case of infection, and reduce complications.
Canadian leaving for home discharged after beating COVID-19: Thank you, Cuba!
"Thank you, Cuba," Canadian Michael Glafhestea shouted leaving the city's Fermín Valdés Domínguez Hospital, discharged after beating COVID-19. His voice broke as he turned toward the ambulance taking him to Frank País García International Airport, where a plane was waiting to take him home. Earlier, while waiting for formalities to be completed, he contacted the press, conveying with a few words in Spanish that he wanted to express his gratitude for the care he had received from the hospital's staff. His was the first confirmed case of the new coronavirus in Holguin. Michael was on vacation at the Rio de Oro Hotel, when his symptoms were detected. He was immediately taken to the Fermín Valdés Domínguez Hospital, where a fully-prepared medical team, with necessary medicine and equipment on hand, fought for his life. Departing for his homeland, he carried with him all medications needed to complete his treatment, in accordance with the protocol for these cases established by the Cuban Medical Association.
Spain Wants Cuban Health Workers to Fight COVID-19
Catalonia's Health Minister Alba Verges asked Spain's Health Minister that Cuban medical teams can join the fight against COVID-19 in her autonomous territory. She also requested a rapid recognition of Cuban doctors' professional degrees so that they can work in Catalonia, as they are already doing in Andorra or Italy.
If accepted, the recognition of professional credentials would benefit all Cuban doctors residing in Spain. The Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands are also interested in incorporating Cuban health workers into their teams against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuba offers its hand to the Caribbean
Several Caribbean island countries have expressed the gratitude of their peoples with a warm welcome as Cuban doctors arrive, offering a helping hand with invaluable medical support to the battle against Covid-19, as a gesture of solidarity.
Biocubafarma guarantees supply 22 drugs for Covid-19 treatment
to specify the strategy that guarantees the production of the 22 medicines that are part of the protocol for the direct treatment of the disease. The first medicine recommended is Interferon, a product that is manufactured in Cuba and in the Cuban-Chinese joint venture located in China, of which we have all the capabilities to supply the health system, both in the Island as at the international level. Interferons are molecules that the body itself produces in response to viral attacks, making them the first organic response of the immune system to fight the virus. According to references received from the experience in China, the product has also been used in vulnerable and health care personnel in a preventive manner, as well as in patients in the form of misting because it is a quick way to reach the lungs and act in the early stages of infection.
Cuban Interferon alfa 2B used in China against Coronavirus
Cuban medication "Interferon alfa 2B" is among about 30 drugs chosen by the Chinese National Health Commission to cure the respiratory condition. Due to the effectiveness shown previously against viruses with similar characteristics.
Novel Cuban VSSP Vaccine in Advanced Breast, Lung, Colon, Prostate Cancer and Leukemia. Superior Efficacy and Safety
Very Small-Sized Proteoliposomes (VSSP) trigger an immune response against a tumor antigen present in malignant cells, meaning that the medication could one day be used to treat leukemia, as well as lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancer. While VSSP, which was originally designed as a composite to boost patients' immune system, also shows signs of stimulating the body's immune response against cancer. NGcGM3 ganglioside is a tumor-specific antigen expressed in human breast tumors. The VSSP vaccine, consisting in very small-sized proteoliposomes (VSSP) obtained by the incorporation of NGcGM3 into the outer membrane protein complex of Neisseria meningitidis, has been tested in a Phase II trial in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). A marked improvement was recorded in patients presenting visceral metastases. While VSSP is still under early clinical trials in Cuba and is not as fully developed as CIMAvax-EGF, but it appears to have great potential already revealed by the New York-based Roswell Park Cancer Institute which is preparing to test Cuban VSSP for three trials — two in kidney cancer and one in breast cancer. Look for more Cuban Medical News here
Things To Look Out For In Cancer Research In 2020
2019 was a remarkable year for cancer research, with great strides made in diagnosing and treating various types of cancer as well as important breakthroughs looking at the health of cancer survivors. What can we expect to see from cancer research in 2020? Here are the top topics to look out for
Second-generation Vaccines for Asthma
Cuban Specialists from the National Center for Biopreparations developed second-generation vaccines for the treatment of asthma and the reduction of the number of injections. A phase II clinical trial is currently being carried out promoted by that scientific center, in Allergy Departments of two Havana hospitals. First generation therapeutic vaccines developed in Cuba were of three species of mites, for the treatment of intermittent and persistent asthma, mild to moderate, by injectable subcutaneous and sublingual drops. Allergen vaccines have been used in allergic diseases for more than 100 years, are recognized internationally as an effective, safe treatment and are recommended by the World Health Organization. National Center for Biopreparations manufactures more than twenty drugs developed in other Cuban research centers, including the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine, Heberprot-P, Recombinant Streptokinase, granulocytic colony stimulating factor, pentavalent vaccine.
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Advanced lung cancer treatment, prostate cancer treatment, drug rehab, post-accident and cerebral palsy motor skills rehabilitation, treatment for eye diseases, ent and plastic surgery -- foreign patients can get all of these services and more in Cuba, and at competitive prices.
Heart surgeons in Cuba are doing very complex open heart surgery procedures such as on-pump and off-pump coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedures including complete arterial revascularization. Their outcomes are excellent.
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Breast augmentation surgery in Havana costs $1,248 (940 euros), compared to around $6,000 in the United States, $4,350 in Britain and $2,500 in Mexico. On any given day there are 2,000 patients at the largest one of reserved for foreigners Havana clinic from around the world.
Use of stem cells results in Cuba are also encouraging. Stem cells therapy is used in complex fractures, bone cysts, aseptic necrosis of the hip, Arthritis injury joint degenerative, particularly of the knee, periodontitis, heart attacks, paraplegia due to injuries of the spine and spinal cord injury, and in children and adolescents with Muscular Dystrophy Duchenne (DMD).
Most come from Latin America, but there are also patients from places like Angola, Canada, Spain, and even Cuban-Americans from the US. Canadians, or Americans pretending to be Canadians are a target market for eye surgery, dentistry, cosmetic surgery, medical check-ups, drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation, diabetic foot ulcer treatment, ent and orthopedics. Health tourists are offered top level care at prices that are often far below those in North America. While it is not legal for Americans to go to Cuba as medical tourists, it is legal in Cuba for clinics to deal with Americans; so some Americans either ignore the ban and hope to avoid the fines, or travel from Canada or Mexico.
Among the portfolio of medical programs offered in Cuba one of the most popular is that of quality of life, focused on the prevention and early detection of disease, promoting healthy lifestyles, well-designed and directed toward reducing risk factors for chronic, non-infectious illnesses. Unique Cuban treatments for skin diseases, affordable vitiligo treatment, psoriasis and hair transplantation, cataract, glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa treatment, diabetes treatment, lung cancer, brain tumors, breast cancer, prostate cancer, neurological rehabilitation Parkinson's disease treatment, Alzheimer, nervous system disorders, orthopedics, traumatology, plastic surgery, hepatitis B and C treatment in Cuba are luring thousands of patients from all over the world to Havana as Cuba establishes itself as a top medical center for the whole world.
Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Breakthrough in Cuba
The development of Cuban biotechnology has reached another important milestone with the recent signing of an agreement to establish a Cuba-United States joint venture enterprise to produce and distribute a therapeutic cancer medication. Currently Cuban pharma produces a number of cutting edge products that are distributed within the country and abroad, principally monoclonal antibodies, recombinant proteins, and therapeutic injectable medications to combat cancer and other immune system diseases. This industry's most important contribution is providing medications that replace imports and guaranteeing their availability, to increase patient survival rates and quality of life. There are very costly medications for which Cuban scientists have developed biosimilar replacements, once patents held by transnational pharmaceutical companies have expired. If they had not been able to do this, the country would be spending a great deal of hard currency to procure them for patients. For example recombinant human erythropoietin, administered to patients with chronic renal insufficiency and hemoglobin problems. The molecule has been registered in Cuba since 1998. Another contribution to life, beyond saving money on purchases abroad, is Filgrastim, a medication that has a marked impact on treatment of cancer patients. This product resolves difficulties generated by cytostatic drugs which are a double edged sword, since they attack other cells as well as the disease. Without this medication, patients undergoing chemotherapy may not survive. It may not be possible to extend their lives because they cannot tolerate the medical procedure.
Besides above mentioned products that are support therapies, Cuban scientists have developed few innovative products. Like lung cancer injectable medication CIMAvax-EGF®.
Natural therapies, a viable healthcare option in Cuba for foreigners
Cuba's medical protocols for different ailments suggest the complementary use of therapies based on natural and traditional medicine, since patients respond well with the integration of this treatment. The combination of natural and traditional methods with conventional treatment recommended by Cuban doctors has generated a body of knowledge that supports precise medical attention and serves to extend academic training. Natural and traditional medicine is understood as a broad profile clinical specialty with a unique, holistic scientific focus, using techniques and procedures to promote health, prevent disease, make diagnosis, treat and rehabilitate with a medical approach based on ancestral practices and non-Western cultures. Its principal goal is establishing a balance or correcting imbalances in human beings, based on medical thinking that considers the person as a unique whole, taking into account the individual, not just the illness. It includes awareness of the interdependence of human beings and the environment, and the impact on health of lifestyles. This discipline bases selection of therapies on individual criteria that have as a foundation specific concepts related to health and its affectations, which generate effective, safe, and efficient treatments, since they address intrinsic causes of ailments.
This approach is used in Cuba at the primary care level and in hospitals, based on a systematic, nationwide state plan of action. The program includes ensuring the production, distribution, and sales of natural products; guaranteed medical attention; training of personnel; ongoing research and the generalization of findings; health promotion and education; in addition to supervision and evaluation of measures adopted. The field includes traditional Chinese methods, as well as therapeutic procedures practiced by the island's original peoples and from the long legacy of folk medicine in Cuba. This type of treatment helps heal the body, reinforce the immune system, strengthen doctor-patient relations, reduce the use of chemical medications, and has fewer side effects and risks than other treatments.