THE serious limitations that the U.S blockade imposes on Cuba and that negatively affect the public health system are issues experienced daily at the capital’s William Soler Pediatric Cardiology Center.
Dr. HerminiaPalenzuela, quality control manager at the medical center, explains that it has been impossible to obtain nitric oxide; a gas manufactured by U.S. and European companies.
The potent effects of the gas give rise to its use in treating cases of pulmonary hypertension which can occur during recovery from cardiothoracic surgery, attacks which can be fatal despite the success of the operation.
"There are other intravenous medications for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension, which we use here in Cuba, but nitrous oxide is the most effective. When administered directly through the respiratory channel, pulmonary vasodilatation occurs almost immediately and pulmonary pressure is reduced. This means that both prolonged and short severe attacks of hypertension can be prevented or controlled," the specialist pointed out.
Dr. Palenzuela commented that a gas with such particular characteristics cannot be transported by plane, and many precautions are required when moving it by boat. "It is difficult to transport it by boat from distant countries. Also, we need a stable supply for patients suffering from critical heart disease who cannot afford to wait. If we were able to get it from the United States, which is just a short distance from Cuba, we would have a constant supply, however we don’t have access to it."
The specialist and teaching consultant stressed that cases of persistent pulmonary hypertension in post-operative patients and severe attacks of pulmonary hypertension are most commonly seen in newborn or breastfeeding babies.
Another limitation of the blockade which affects Pediatric Cardiology is the impossibility of acquiring Sevoflurane, the best existing pediatric anesthetic for cardiovascular surgery and which is only manufactured in the United States.
The limitations are numerous, ranging from the high cost of supplies due to expensive freight and intermediary charges and the barriers to scientific exchanges between Cuban and U.S. professionals, to the refusal to sell the products previously mentioned. This is one of the many faces of the inhumane policy which has been in existence for more than half a century.