Cuba Culture

Havana Biotech and Healthcare Update

Posted February 08, 2005 by publisher in Cuba Culture.


The forceful advancement of Cuban Science finds in the Cuban Capital a stronghold, with over 100 research centers. The program the “The Round Table” aired on Friday on Cuban Radio and Television, on the occasion of Science Day, marked every January 15 island-wide, highlighted Havana’s scientific achievements, which led to the city being chosen to host the celebration.

Roberto Castellanos, the representative of the Ministry of Science, technology and the Environment in the Cuban capital, said one of the top results of 2004 was the production of the first million doses of a vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae, a naturally-acquired disease that seems to occur in humans only.

In infants and young children it causes acute bacterial meningitis, and may also be responsible for epiglottitis, cellulitis, osteomyelitis, as well as ear infections, and sinusitis.

Another important contribution by Havana-based scientific centers was the production in the country of the first anti-bacterial combined vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and Pertusis (Whooping Cough), a major breakthrough of the island pharmaceutical industry. There were also important trials in the development of vaccines against cancer.

Castellanos called the attention on the fact that Cuba also manufactures 10 antiretrovirals for patients carrying the HIV virus. The disease currently affects some 40 million people in the world, most of all in Sub Saharan Africa, which concentrates 60 percent of all cases.

The island is one of the countries advocating the free and universal access to the treatment of these inhibitors of the reproduction capacity of the virus that causes human immunodeficiency, recalled panelists on “The Round Table,” which was attended by vice President of the Council of Ministers, Pedro Miret Prieto.

Only seven percent of the HIV seropositives around the world have access to this pharmaceutical, since its production and distribution worldwide are monopolized by a few transnationals, mainly of US and German origin.

According to the regulations of the World Health Organization, this handful of large corporations have the right of exclusivity over these antiretroviral medications for a period of 20 years, which results in such high prices that they are only available to a small fraction of the people who need them.

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