Our meetings are open to all
3rd Wednesday of each month
Note: Usually we meet in Brunswick, but ocassionally at other locations around the state, so contact us just to be sure.
(207) 743-2183 (207) 273-3247 (207) 443-2899
mail (at) letcubalive.org
Let Cuba Live
January 2009 Cuba Update
New low infant mortality rate (IMR)
Reflecting health care accessibility and quality, education levels, and nutrition, infant mortality is a measure of overall social well being. In Cuba last year 4.7 babies per 1000 births died during their first year. The rate before the revolution exceeded 60. It fell to 11.1 in 1989, 6.5 in 1999 – during the “special period – and 5.3 in 2007. Minister of Health José Ramón Balaguer attributed Cuban success to dedicated, scientifically advanced health workers; integration of primary and hospital level care; maternity homes for expectant mothers, and effective specialty services. Granma, Cuba’s national newspaper, attributed the new low to “epoch struggle, against wind and tide, let loose by the revolution, favoring that primary human right – health.”
Cuban analysts explained that state control of health resources allows for attention to vulnerable groups. Civil Defense workers were commended for the care they provided during hurricanes last year for children and pregnant women. In the United States, the estimated IMR for 2008 is 6.3; that for other industrialized countries, around five. The IMR for racial minorities in the United States historically has ended up two to three times higher than the general U.S. rate.
Scientists, industry respond to world vaccine needs
Twenty years ago Cuba developed the world’s only commercially available vaccine against type B meningococcal bacteria, responsible for meningitis affecting young adults. On Dec. 4, Concepcion Campa, director of Havana’s Finlay Institute, announced Cuba’s donation of 5.2 million doses of the vaccine to African countries. In addition, Cuba and Brazil, encouraged by the World Health Organization, recently outlined cooperative plans to expand vaccine production.
New vaccine manufacturing facilities, developed in response to WHO urging and inaugurated last week, are central to the project. Cuba had already pioneered in devising a synthetic vaccine protective against H. Influenza type B meningitis afflicting children. Global Insight indicates that Cuba’s pharmaceutical industry ranked second for export income in 2007
Cuba last month marked gains in overcoming the international isolation Washington has long sought to impose. Russian spokespersons took the occasion of a visit by President Dmitry Medvedev to reaffirm plans for offshore oil exploration and development of oil storage facilities and pipelines as well as construction of a nickel-processing plant in Holguin.
In a similar vein, officials accompanying Chinese President Hu Jintao to Cuba announced postponement of Cuban debt repayments and $70 million in loans toward refurbishing Cuban hospitals — welcome news following hurricane losses of $10 billion this year. Visiting former Cuban President Fidel Castro, President Hu promised continued Chinese backing of Cuban sovereignty, opposition to “outside interference” and “firm support for the socialist cause,” Xinhua news said.
Caribbean leaders hosted
The Third Cuba-Caricom Summit, meeting Dec. 8 in Santiago de Cuba, issued a declaration covering Caribbean integration, mutual developmental assistance, climate change, the financial crisis and drug trafficking. Cuba, not a member of the 15-member trade alliance, held the first summit in 2002, three decades after Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago established diplomatic relations with Havana, defying the U.S. blockade.
President Raul Castro reminded the leaders that Cuba’s international solidarity is founded on revolution. The Cuban News Agency noted that 1,013 Cuban health professionals are working in Caricom nations, performing 17 million medical consultations, 300,000 operations and 123,000 deliveries over 10 years. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro was awarded the “Order of the Caribbean Community.”