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Health Tourism in Cuba

Health Tourism in Cuba

by cubapura

Cuban medicine has a good reputation all around the globe. It started gaining respect back in the XIX century, when the Cuban doctor Carlos Juan Finlay discovered that the yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes and developed a vaccine against the disease, which was a great advancement in the medicine of that time. Now, the Cuban healthcare system is known for being completely free for all the country’s population, and covering a vast variety of different services.

Besides, Cuban healthcare has achieved a number of remarkable goals, such as almost 100% vaccination rates, a high life expectancy (77 years for men and 81 years for women as in 2016), and one of the lowest child mortality rates in the world. The Cuban government not only provides its population with medical services, but also organizes humanitarian projects in other nations. For example, Cuba gave medical aid to the Soviet people following the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, and proposed to send doctors to the U.S. to help with the damage caused by hurricane Katrina (this was not accepted by the US government). There also were humanitarian missions such as the “Operación Milagro”, destined to provide people from underdeveloped countries treatment for eye diseases.

Despite the free healthcare that Cuba gives to its people and some allied countries, Cuban medicine is also an important income source for the country’s economy. The Cuban government receives around $11 billion dollars for its medical services a year. Most of this money comes from contracts that Cuba has with other countries: the government sends Cuban doctors to work abroad, and the governments of these countries pay the Cuban government for these doctor’s labor. In some cases, such as with Venezuela, it is not money that is given in exchange for medical services, but oil.

Another part of this money comes from the tourists that come to Cuba in search of treatment for different diseases. About 20,000 people annually visit Cuba for health tourism, bringing about $40 million dollars to the country’s economy.  Many come to Cuba not only because of the country’s reputation on the medical field, but also because the treatment for various diseases costs them in Cuba about 60 to 80% less than it would in their countries. Cuba is known for providing a variety of medical services, but the main three areas of healthcare that Cuba is known for are the following:

Traditional procedures

These include pigmentary retinopathy surgery, which is realized at “Camilo Cienfuegos” International Health Center, and is based on electric stimulation, ozone therapy, and revitalizing surgery. There also are some well-known Cuban medicines for vitiligo, psoriasis, and alopecia, and thousands of tourists come every year to have an appointment with a doctor who would prescribe them these medicines, so they would be able to buy it.

Cuban patented products

Probably the most famous medicine developed in Cuba is the VIDATOX – a cancer remedy, made from blue scorpion venom. Despite its high price and the difficulties in finding it, every year many people come to Cuba just to buy it at the “La Pradera” International Health Center, as a unique chance to cure patients with cancer. About 85% of all cases report significant improvements after administering the medicine. Among other Cuban patents there is the monoclonal antibodies vaccine and Heberprot treatment complex for diabetic foot ulcer.

Addiction treatment

Being provided in Cuba since the 1980s, it became famous internationally in the year 2000, when the famous Argentinean football player Diego Armando Maradona came to Cuba to receive treatment for drug addiction. The treatment consists of rehabilitation in a health center located in a natural environment, supervised by a multidisciplinary team of health professionals, who will provide the patient such services as psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and treatment of the consequences of their alcohol or drug addiction.

Other services provided in Cuba are neurological rehabilitation at the CIREN center, anti-stress therapy at “El Salton”, esthetic services at SERVIMED, natural and traditional medicine at “Topes de Collantes” center, orthopedic treatment at “Frank Pais” hospital, body weight regulation therapy, aging prevention, etcetera.

The “Cira Garcia” Central Clinic is a hospital that is destined only for foreigners living or traveling in Cuba. There you can both receive any kind of emergency medical care you may need during your stay in Cuba, and schedule appointments with specialists in all areas of medicine.

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