Claridad: Solidarity groups in the US deliver medical aid for children with cancer in Cuba

by Luis De Jesus Reyes
May 22, 2024
reprinted from Claridad

Delivery of medicines PC: Luis De Jesus Reyes

Havana, Cuba — Around $60,000 in medicines and medical supplies were delivered this week to the Cuban Health system as part of a donation made by social organizations and activists in the United States to support treatments for cancer patients on the island.

The aid, managed by the Hatuey Project, is part of an initiative by solidarity groups to support the Caribbean country in its fight against the effects of Washington’s blockade and sanctioning policies, which hinder the free importation of medicines.

The shipment is aimed especially at children with cancer who receive care in specialized hospitals in the provinces of Havana and Villa Clara (the center of the country).

“The process of bringing these medications, cytostatics and medical supplies for children with cancer took almost a year […] but it was possible due to the solidarity of many people, individuals and organizations,” the social activist said in a press conference—American, Gloria La Riva, who is also in charge of the Hatuey Project.

The former presidential candidate for the Socialism and Liberation Party (PSL) of the United States explained that the difficulty in obtaining the products that make up the donation was due to the high cost of medicines intended to treat cancer patients in her country and maintained that gathering aid was only possible thanks to solidarity gestures from organizations such as Pastors for Peace, the New York People’s Forum, the Committee in Solidarity with Cuba and Venezuela, the Australian Solidarity Group in Sydney, and the PSL, among others.

“In total, the value [of the medications] seems not to be much, but it is a lot of work, and it is because we live in the country of imperialism, of capitalism, where, for example, one of those bulbs costs $800,” she explained.

The list of medications and supplies includes antibiotics, treatments to slow the growth of cancer cells, infusion pumps, catheters, syringes and trocars. PC: Luis De Jesus Reyes
Press Conference. PC: Luis De Jesus Reyes

The list of medications and supplies includes antibiotics, treatments to slow the growth of cancer cells, infusion pumps, catheters, syringes and trocars.

Cuba is currently going through a complicated economic situation, a product, among other things, of the economic blockade and the inclusion of the island on the US list of countries sponsoring terrorism, which affects various areas, especially health services to the population.

Upon receiving the donation, Doctor Aldo Grandal, head of the Medical Collaboration Department of the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), said that the Cuban National System is “going through one of the most difficult moments” in decades.

“If I start giving you figures, I think it would be endless, all the issues necessary in the National Health System. Today, possibly, they exceed the 2,000 or 3,000 resources necessary for the system,” said the Cuban official.

Grandal explained that donations will go to children admitted today in the Hematology and Oncohematology wards of the Juan Manuel Márquez Hospital in Havana and the Luis Miranda Hospital in Villa Clara.

The Cuban government has denounced on several occasions that the unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on the island represent an obstacle that is difficult to overcome when acquiring the medicines and medical supplies necessary to care for its population completely free of charge on the international market.

“The Cuban State puts numerous resources into Cuban medicine and the health of the Cuban people that, today, it is very difficult for us to acquire abroad due to the blockade. If we could trade with the United States, these resources would cost us much less,” Dr. Grandal pointed out at the press conference.

However, he added, “we are extremely grateful for what they have made possible with this project.”

Also present at the delivery of the resources was the president of the Institute of Friendship with the People (ICAP), Fernando González Llort, who said he felt “moved” by the help of the Hatuey Project. “The American people defy the blockade and help save lives,” he concluded.

Around twenty young North American activists were part of the brigade that traveled to Cuba to deliver the donations. The Hatuey Project is an organization that brings together solidarity movements and Human Rights activists in the US and also extends to Latin American countries.