On July 1st Cuba was officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the first nation in the world to eradicate maternally transmitted HIV and Syphilis. The General Director of the World Health Organization hailed this milestone as ‘one of the greatest possible successes in public health’ and went on to encourage other nations to follow Cuba's example.
The island country has,
as a matter of fact, a socialized and universal system of medicine that is
often compared to that of European nations and that in many ways surpasses that
of the United States. Cuba's relentless fight in preventing and eradicating HIV/AIDS and other sexually
communicable diseases however, has some history. In fact, the communist nation
began its prevention program even before the first case was identified in 1986.
Unlike many of its Caribbean neighbors, Cuba has been able to control the
spread of the disease with an enormous sexual education campaign in public
schools, and making condoms
extremely cheap and available everywhere.
Cuba's accomplishments in the field go even further. It's not simply enough to prevent HIV/AIDS, but it is also important to care for those who have already contracted it and allow them to live full and productive lives. The substances that allow this are called antiretroviral, and work by preventing the spread of the infection and its effect on the immune system. The greatest obstacle for developing nations in curbing their HIV/AIDS levels has been the prohibitive cost of these treatments. By ignoring patenting laws and regulations and instead prioritizing the well-being of its people, Cuba has been able to produce generic versions of the drugs and distribute them widely to the affected population. This has greatly reduced mortality rates. According to a UN report on the Cuban HIV/AIDS management,
"in 1996, when the Ministry of Public Health bought drugs to treat HIV-positive children and their mothers, the cost of treatment per person per year was US$ 14 000. Now, with the production of generic drugs in Cuba, the price varies US$ 31 to US$ 169 per year".
The internationalist pillar of the Cuban revolution, however, doesn't allow them to keep these advancements for themselves. For years now they have been providing armies of doctors and medicines to developing nations worldwide to fight the HIV/AIDS plague effectively and efficiently, preventing thousands and thousands of deaths. It is estimated that Cuba provides more medical personnel to the developing world than all the G8 countries combined! This goes to show what an even relatively small and poor nation can achieve when it bases its health policies on the basis of what is best for their citizens. Will the United States policy makers take example from one of its longest-lasting political enemies? It's unlikely, but maybe its citizens might. #News