Cuban Cancer Patient Deprived of Medicine by US Blockade

Source:  TeleSUR
October 29 2015

Seven-year-old cancer patient Noemi Bernardez is unlikely to survive her treatment without a U.S.-made drug.

cuban cancer patient denied by us blockade

The hospital where Bernardez is being treated says its struggling to obtain Temozolomida. | Photo: CubaDebate

A Cuban girl is being deprived of urgently needed cancer treatment due to the United States’ blockade, doctors said Wednesday.

Seven-year-old Noemi Bernardez underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor in September, and is now undergoing further treatment including radiation therapy. However, her doctors say the likelihood Bernardez will survive is low without access to a specialized drug made in the United States, Temozolomida.

“It’s essential for Noemi and other patients with the same condition to receive treatment that improves their chance of survival, such as Temozolomida,” Doctor Migdalia Perez told teleSUR.

Chance of survival

Without the drug, Bernardez has a 20 percent chance of surviving. Comparably, patients with Bernandez’s conditions generally have a 70 percent chance of beating cancer when their treatment includes Temozolomida.

However, the crucial drug is close to impossible to obtain in Cuba, where suppliers are unable to directly purchase Temozolomida from its U.S. manufacturer.

Due to the U.S. blockade, the Cuban health ministry has been forced to hunt for the drug from third-party suppliers – a difficult feat given U.S. laws that penalize foreign subsidiaries of U.S.-based companies from trading with Cuba.

According to Perez, the blockade has put Bernardez and her doctors in a difficult situation.

The world opposes the blockade

191 - 2“It’s very difficult to treat a disease when our hands are practically tied,” she said.

The U.S. blockade of Cuba is opposed by almost the entire world. Earlier this week, the United Nations voted almost unanimously for a resolution to condemn the blockade, with just the United States and Israel defending the blockade.

For the last three years, 188 of the 193 members have voted in favor of Cuba, with the United States and Israel being persistent exceptions. The decision must be unanimous in order for the measure to be passed.

The resolution is named the “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.” It expresses concern over the international legality of the U.S. economic and financial siege of the Caribbean island.

Obama

obama 33U.S. President Barack Obama said in July that the blockade had failed. Since then, he has often hinted that it would soon be lifted. But despite beginning a path to normalize bilateral dealings, including lifting some travel and trade bans to the island, the sanctions continue, as a change of policy would have to be passed by Congress.

raul at panama summit 2015Cuban President Raul Castro has reiterated that in order for full relations to be re-established, the United States must meet four conditions: to leave Guantanamo detention camp; end the blockade; end the “wet-foot-dry-foot” law encouraging Cubans to pursue residency in the U.S.; and end anti-government radio and television transmissions into the island.

RELATED: A UN Vote Worth Watching: Will the US Support a UN Motion Against the Cuban Blockade?

Lifting of the half-century blockade would represent a historic moment for Cubans, 77 percent of whom were born under the harsh economic conditions.

Source:  Cuban Cancer Patient Deprived of Medicine by US Blockade TeleSUR

3 thoughts on “Cuban Cancer Patient Deprived of Medicine by US Blockade

  1. Our Pink to Pink tour took place on October 10 thru the 17/2015 and was composed of a Radiobiologist and an ENT physicians, four breast cancer survivors and six well wishers to commemorate the fight against breast cancer with our peers in Cuba, which went beyond our wildest dream.
    Shortly after arriving in Cuba on Saturday October 10th, we had dinner with leaders of the women support group Alas por la Vida and professionals involved in Cancer treatment and research. Sunday was dedicated to tour the city of Havana, visit museums and organize our small donation.

    At 9:30 AM on Monday, we arrived at the Comandante Manuel Fajardo Clinical-Surgical Hospital in the Vedado neighborhood, where we were warmly greeted by physicians and members of Alas por la Vida.

    During the next two hours, we received a detailed description of the incidence, prevalence, mortality rate, diagnosis, surgery, chemo, radiation, the critical lack of post treatment aesthetics and psychological resources such as prosthesis, bra’s, wigs, cream etc.

    We heard moving testimonials from survivors about when they were first diagnosed, their anxiety and despair, which was compounded by the lack of basic resources to treat many patients during what is known in Cuba as Special Period following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even today, breast screening has been drastically reduced because of a lack of mammography machines, spare parts or reagents, which brought some to tears.

    We embraced, laughed, promised to stay true to the struggle and left them with a symbolic donation of cancer ware items. We were invited to come back on March 8 for the commemoration of Woman’s Day and their Anniversary.

    The next morning at 9:30 AM we visited the National Institute of Cancer and Radiobiology. We were received by some of the highest ranking leaders of that institution, the head of Mastology, the leader of the group fighting breast cancer, physicists and nurses. We were treated to a wider, deeper Power Point presentation of this malady in Cuba with worldwide comparative stats, which was followed by an intense Q & A. We were invited to tour the hospital, but the limited of our heavy program allowed us only to visit the Radiology department.

    At 3:30 PM after a quick lunch, we arrived at ELAM or Latin America School of Medical Sciences on the outskirts of Havana, where 2400 plus med students from across the globe, receive free medical training. The head of International Relations made an extensive presentation on why this educational center was created in 1998, how students from over 120 countries have gone through their classrooms, the way it is structured and how it is free of any race, gender, age or religious divisions.

    The Dean gave us an in-depth explanation of how the school operates, how students needs of free housing, meals, books, lab service, transportation and a monthly stipend is covered by the government. The only out of pocket expenses the students have, are the cost of the airline ticket during summer vacation.

    We met with approximately 12 US students enrolled in pre-med, first and second year for a long and extensive chat about how they feel in Cuba, their language skills, being home sick and inter students relations. We can contribute to make their student life easier, by reaching them through e-mail, helping with internship during their summer vacation and their post graduate residence.

    On Wednesday, we visited a pregnant women care center in the Province of Cienfuegos, where we learned how this simple method of providing supervised lodging to women with predisposing miscarriage factors, contribute to reduce infant and maternal mortality.

    We have returned more engaged, committed and determine to strengthen this bridge of love, which can benefit women on both sides of the Florida Straits and the Caribbean.

  2. It is really hard to accept the brutality and viciousness of US imperialism to allow anyone to die particularly children like young Noemi because of the blockade that makes US made cancer drugs inaccessible in Cuba.

    Think for a minute or less and you will quickly see the inhumanness, the coldness, the viciousness and the lack of regard for human life of US imperialism becomes crystal clear. Imagine an innocent 7 year old Cuban girl and other Cubans who have cancer need to get urgently a drug called Temozolomida to at least have a fighting chance to survive. There is no indication that the company that sells the drug is willing to budge to sell the drug to Cuba not because the manufacturers are unwilling to do so but because the US Congress maintains the blockade that make it illegal to sell the drug to Cuba.

    Congressman Ryan from Wisconsin was recently voted in as the 54th Speaker of the House of Representative. Mr. Ryan touts himself as a family man who even made his time with his family a condition to be considered speaker. Would the family man speaker even think of taking a “humanitarian initiative” to save little Naomi’s life and the lives of the others suffering from cancer? What would Speaker Ryan do should he trade space even in his mind with Naomi’s parents? Would he not do anything and everything to save his daughter’s life?

    Mr. Speaker, please take up your phone and call the CEO of the company that manufactures the cancer drug and work out something to save the lives of Naomi and other children? This is not rocket science it is a law to blockade Cuba. Something can be done and must be done to save the lives if Cuban children!

    If the US government can make exceptions within the confines of the blockade for travel and a limited amount of trade with Cuba, why shouldn’t it stand to reason that exceptions can also be made for life saving medicines like Temozolomida that can save lives like that of Naomi.

    Sadly, time is running out for little Naomi, can the adults in the US Congress show some compassion and goodwill towards Naomi and other cancer patients in Cuba in the spirit of a normalizing relationship between Cuba and the US?

    “It’s impossible until it is done” Nelson Mandela

  3. It is really hard to accept the brutality and viciousness of US imperialism to allow anyone to die particularly children like young Noemi because of the blockade that makes US made cancer drugs inaccessible in Cuba.

    Think for a minute or less and you will quickly see the inhumanness, the coldness, the viciousness and the lack of regard for human life of US imperialism becomes crystal clear. Imagine an innocent 7 year old Cuban girl and other Cubans who have cancer need to get urgently a drug called Temozolomida to at least have a fighting chance to survive. There is no indication that the company that sells the drug is willing to budge to sell the drug to Cuba not because the manufacturers are unwilling to do so but because the US Congress maintains the blockade that make it illegal to sell the drug to Cuba.

    Congressman Ryan from Wisconsin was recently voted in as the 54th Speaker of the House of Representative. Mr. Ryan touts himself as a family man who even made his time with his family a condition to be considered speaker. Would the family man speaker even think of taking a “humanitarian initiative” to save little Naomi’s life and the lives of the others suffering from cancer? What would Speaker Ryan do should he trade space even in his mind with Naomi’s parents? Would he not do anything and everything to save his daughter’s life?

    Mr. Speaker, please take up your phone and call the CEO of the company that manufactures the cancer drug and work out something to save the lives of Naomi and other children? This is not rocket science it is a law to blockade Cuba. Something can be done and must be done to save the lives if Cuban children!

    If the US government can make exceptions within the confines of the blockade for travel and a limited amount of trade with Cuba, why shouldn’t it stand to reason that exceptions can also be made for life saving medicines like Temozolomida that can save lives like that of Naomi.

    Sadly, time is running out for little Naomi, can the adults in the US Congress show some compassion and goodwill towards Naomi and other cancer patients in Cuba in the spirit of a normalizing relationship between Cuba and the US?

    “It’s impossible until it is done” Nelson Mandela

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