BBC | As reported on Cuban television July 25
[Announcer] In response to the concerns of the population, the Public Health Ministry wishes to issue the following note.
As is customary during the summer months, there are hygienic and epidemiological conditions which favour an increase in acute diarrhoea and respiratory ailments which primarily affect children. This year, together with exceptionally high summer temperatures and heavy rains in the capital, the unfavourable conditions have been made worse by Hurricane Dennis, which left in its wake problems related to the water supply, and the availability of cooking fuel and electricity.
In addition to these factors, in the last two weeks Havana has experienced an increase in the number of digestive and respiratory ailments, fevers and early symptoms of cardio-pulmonary deficiency. Not all patients exhibit all the symptoms. Children are particularly susceptible, although other age groups are also affected.
Eight children have died in the capital as a result of this. The situation is being meticulously investigated in order to determine the precise causes and circumstances, and their links to the current hygienic and epidemiological conditions created by the aforementioned factors.
The measures taken by the health system include keeping a close eye for such cases at all its facilities, which was already being done as it is customary. The system has therefore alerted and mobilized its leading experts and workers. As always, our people’s public health is supported by the scientific community, represented by renowned and internationally recognized facilities such as the Pedro Kouri Tropical Medicine Institute, the Finlay Institute, the Bioengineering and Biotechnology Centre and the National Genetic Medicine Centre, among others.
All the cases encountered are being treated with the advanced technologies available in the country. The People’s Administration Council in Havana is taking significant steps to improve environmental health, the quality of drinking water, and controls in the production and distributions of food staples.
The Public Health Ministry urges the population to increase sanitary measures and to cooperate with the actions being carried out by the various entities in the capital.
A topic that has given rise to rumours and concerns is alleged changes to the pharmaceutical product homatropine methylbromure syrup, popularly know as Novatropin, which was subjected to an investigation in order to verify if its quality specifications were being met. This investigation and the result of the analyses carried out by the State’s Medicine Quality Control Centre reveal that this medicine strictly meets its specifications and there have been no reports of adverse effects, and therefore there is no connection between the cases reported previously and its consumption.
As it is logical, the Public Health Ministry will continue to take the necessary measures to counter the effects of this health and epidemiological situation. Our people can rest assured that our country, attacked more than once with biological weapons, is ready and capable, like no other, of bringing together the work of all its institutions to protect their health, defending with all its scientific potential the welfare and live of all citizens.