Corona Crisis : is it generosity of sanction crippled Cuba?

When you talk about Cuba, the image of a socialist nation in an island that has fought for a long time against US embargoes comes to mind. But the socialist country has set an extraordinary example in the fight against the coronavirus, accountable for the current stagnation of the world. In the war to conserve humanity, they have come forward with their own courage, skills and medical knowledge. A team of Cuban doctors and nurses is providing medical assistance to countries endangered by the coronavirus outbreak.

Not just medicine, the country's biotechnology is now a wonder in the world. With its remarkable biotechnology, Cuba is now set to make its mark in Asia. The COVID-19 situation could further expand the path of their cooperation. The Diplomat, a leading international online magazine on Asia and the Pacific, recently published a report on the subject.

In stark discrepancy to the nationalism of the medical system in the United States and other Western countries, a small Caribbean country has arisen as a watchtower of international solidarity in this world war against the coronavirus, writes The Diplomat. In less than two weeks, Cuba has set an incredible record by dispatching medical teams to 19 countries.
Corona Crisis : is it generosity of sanction crippled Cuba?
Despite being maimed by US sanctions, Cuba has accomplished in playing a key role in the war against Covid-19, the diplomat's report said. New medical teams have been sent from the country to 19 countries, including Italy, Andorra, Angola, Jamaica, Mexico and Venezuela. Requests from several more countries, including Argentina and Spain, are in their channel. So far they have sent more than nine hundred doctors and nurses to those countries.

Earlier, the US news agency CNBC reported that as the incidence of coronavirus infections in different countries around the world is increasing, so is the demand for Cuban doctors. Cuba assigns more than 29,000 professional physicians in 59 countries around the world. The country is sending thousands of doctors to free medical care in low-income countries in Latin America and Africa. Medical teams have been sent to Cuba to help cope with the coronavirus situation. The role of Cuban physicians in disasters such as plagues or terrible health crises, earthquakes are well known in the countries. Everyone knows their role in the fight against cholera in Haiti or Ebola in West Africa in recent times. They have also provided medical aid in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Suriname and Grenada.


Cuban physicians rushed to the scene after the tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2004, the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005 and the earthquake in Indonesia in 2008 to save many lives.  Explaining their activities, Oscar Putol, a member of the mission to treat earthquake victims in Indonesia, said, ‘Today there is a volcanic eruption somewhere, tomorrow there will be an earthquake, the day after tomorrow there will be a flood. Cuba is willing to go to any country for help.'

But Cuba's significant history of sending medical teams to Asia and other parts of the world, including the current COVID-19 epidemic, has rarely been reported in the Western mainstream media.

The Cuban medical team went to Italy for treatment of the Corona epidemic, prompting a worldwide response. Cuba has already extended a helping hand to Britain, one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world.
When the coronavirus infected the passenger ship MS Bremen, when no country permitted them to dock, Cuba unlocked its port. There were a thousand passengers on the ship.
Cuba's healthcare system was evolved with the help of the Communist Soviet Union. When the communist bloc collapsed in the world, it suffered some losses. The blockade of the western world including America has also induced difficulties. In it, too, Cuba has made physicians; Revolutionary physicians who don't just think about themselves. Don't just think about their own country. In pursuit of the communist ideology of making the whole world their home, they run to different ends. In this case, too they have no exception.

Cuba in Asia: Covid-19 and later
Former President of Timor-Leste (East Timor) Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta applauded Cuba for developing a public health system from zero facility after his country's independence in 2001. In a presidential proclamation, Ramos declared, "Timor-Leste has made many real friends, but the question is, what greater gift can we receive than a safeguarded health system for our people? Cuba presented us that. "

Hundreds of Timorese doctors, succeeding from a medical school in Havana, are now working with Cuban doctors to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic to serve at-risk people. From 2000 to 2019, about 950 students graduated from the Cuban Medical School.

Moreover, interferon-alpha-2b, an anti-viral treatment of Cuba, was widely used by Chinese doctors in Wuhan to deal with coronavirus. It was easy for China to get. Because Changchung Heber (Chungheber), a joint biotechnology venture between China and Cuba, developed it.

"Interferon alpha-2b inhibits patient stimulation and complications, otherwise this stimulus can eventually lead to death," said Dr Luis Herrera Martinez, Cuban expert working for the CIGB centre of Biotechnology. Wuhan was used to treat patients with two anti-viral HIV drugs, Lopinavir and Ritonavir. It has also been included in tests of the World Health Organization.


Corona Crisis : is it generosity of sanction crippled Cuba?

However, a study warns that only interferon can be safely used to treat mild symptoms in the initial stages of the Covid-19 virus. Cuba first used interferon in 1981 to curb a deadly outbreak of dengue fever.

Helen Yaff, a teacher at the University of Glasgow and a Cuban professional, said that preceding experience had been a catalyst for the advancement of the country's visionary biotech industry.

Professor Paul Farmer, a medical anthropologist at Harvard Medical School, said, ‘The Cuban IPK (International Pedro Corey Institute of Tropical Diseases) has been honoured in Latin America and beyond.
Cuba's low-budget IPK [the International Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Diseases] than  Research Hospital at Harvard has conducted important basic science research, helped develop vaccines, and trained thousands of researchers in Cuba and around the world.

Cuba's biotechnology abilities have long been desirable to Asian countries. As a result, the country has been able to take joint initiatives with China, Singapore and Thailand. In addition to the Changheber plant, there is another joint production centre called Biotech Pharmaceutical Company Limited in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone of Cuba. In addition, the China-Cuba Biotechnology Joint Innovation Center was officially inaugurated in January in Hunan Province, where various projects in Cuba will be worked on.


Cuban biotechnology in the ASEAN region
Before the full impact of the COVID-19 epidemic in Thailand of February, the Cuban Siam Bioscience Group and the Center for Molecular Immunology (CIM) declared openly improvement in jointly developing monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Siam Bioscience became a partner in a joint venture in the Southeast Asian region to transfer biotechnology skills and install manufacturing facilities for medical commodities.

The Chief executive Officer of Songpon Deechongkit intends to produce and sell three new drugs for cancer, kidney failure and complex diseases by 2022. Other biotechnology agreements were signed with Singaporean, Malaysian and Japanese companies. The Cuban anti-cancer drug Nimotuzumab, in particular, attracted a number of compromises. However, it is extremely difficult (as US and EU control the market) for a country like Cuba to pass corporate protocols to access the lucrative Western drug market with its innovative drugs.

Corona Crisis : is it generosity of sanction crippled Cuba?
Japan's Daiichi Sankyo has previously failed with Cuban medicine to gain access in the western pharma market. However, they can succeed in the joint model that Cuba and Thailand are pursuing, targeting the Thai and ASEAN markets. According to Songpon, the price of their drugs will be half that of costly drugs imported from developed countries. Thai patients can use high-quality medicine at a low cost.

Scorching Medical Diplomacy

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, almost 40 countries have sought help from Cuba. But as always, the island nation has been criticized by the neighbouring United States. Mike Pompeo, the state secretary of the US defined the Cuban International Medical Mission as "an attempt by slave doctors to enrich the communist state." The U.S. State Department tweeted that Cuba's intention in sending doctors to international missions for the COVID-19 outbreak was  “to recover the money it lost when countries halted contributing in the offensive program.”



Corona Crisis : is it generosity of sanction crippled Cuba?

In a meeting with local media of Italy, Carlos PĂ©rez Diaz, leader of the Cuban team, denied the allegations. "We just came to cooperate," he said. 'The Italian government promised to room and board for us, but there was no conversation of paying. ' The Cuban government also did not mention any money from the ongoing flight to the aid of underprivileged Caribbean countries.

Cuba has prominence on the world stage as a service provider in the healthcare sector. It is even substantiated by the recognition of the United Nations.

Cuba's Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade has received awards from the United Nations in recognition of emergency medical assistance to more than 3.5 million people in 21 countries.

Corona Crisis : is it generosity of sanction crippled Cuba?

The experts say the award or international reputation will not solve Cuba's accumulating food and fuel shortages. Although there is some support from China and Russia, Cuba may have to pay a higher price for pushing COVID-19 and imposing tougher embargoes.

Yet, their efforts can be more than just a life-saving experience. In the post-Covid future, many more Asian countries may seek Cuba as a partner in joint ventures to produce low-cost drugs. As well as may feel the need to adopt Cuban expertise as a useful model for building a more stable public health system.

Source: The Diplomat

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