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WHO Official Lauds Cuban Health System

Agencia Cubana de Noticias (AIN)

HAVANA, Feb 14, 2006 [AIN] Cuba's primary health care system and specialized services are playing a crucial role in disease prevention and treatment, said a World Health Organization (WHO) official in Havana.

Dr. Jack Chow, Assistant Director-General of WHO for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, described the Cuban health system as exceptional.

The WHO representative highlighted Cuba's political will to maintain its exemplary health indicators and to share its experiences in the field with other nations.

The expert visited a facility in Havana where he learned of the specialized attention being provided to HIV/AIDS patients.  Sanatorium director Rigoberto Lopez explained that AIDS was first detected in Cuba in 1986 and that 0.07 percent of the population is affected by the disease, one of the lowest rates in the Americas and the Caribbean.

Lopez said that nearly 30 percent of patients at the Havana sanatorium have stayed there for over 10 years and that 79 percent are homosexual males.

Chow underscored the efficiency of Cuban pharmaceuticals in the treatment of HIV/AIDS and he noted that besides meeting the national demand they have been registered in different countries.

The local production of the medications, which are on a par with others, produced abroad, saves the island 11 million dollars annually, while exports bring in more than 2 million dollars.  Bio-equivalence studies show that Cuban generic medicines are as efficient as the best of similar commercial products currently selling on the international market. Experts say that they have been effective in increasing the patient's quality of life and lowering the HIV/AIDS death rate by fighting opportunistic diseases and strengthening the immune system.

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