MediCuba: an efficient and prosperous socialist enterprise

Source:  Granma
June 8 2016
by: Nuria Barbosa León | informacion@granma.cu

The enterprise is viewed as an organization of high social recognition, with capable and committed professionals, effectively guaranteeing imported supplies required by the national health system and in its provision of services abroad.

medicuba 1.jpgThe MediCuba office is located on 2nd Street, No. 352, between 15th and 17th Streets, Vedado, Havana. Photo:Anabel Díaz

The wise decision to establish the socialist state enterprise, MediCuba, in December, 1962, responded to the need to provide supplies including medicines, equipment and new technology for the Cuban public health system.

Today, this state enterprise with purely national capital, is working to establish policies regarding the management of imports, in accordance with the aspiration to gradually introduce higher profile providers that can respond to the requirements of the national economy.

The entity, attached to the Ministry of Public Health, has the task of effectively ensuring the imported supplies demanded by primary, secondary and tertiary health care facilities, as well as Cuba’s medical collaboration missions abroad.

laritza joanicot medicuba

Engineer Laritza Joanicot Mas, head of MediCuba’s Medicines Purchasinf Department, notes that the enrerprize helps save the lives of many people.  Photo: Anabel Diaz

To do so, the enterprise has maintained stable efforts and consolidated ties over many years with export companies in Europe, Asia and America in countries such as China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, France, Spain, India, Denmark, the UK, Panama and the Netherlands

Engineer Laritza Joanicot Mas, head of MediCuba’s Medicines Purchasing Department, told Granma International that the 13 specialists in her area are responsible for the purchase of more than 280 drugs which are not produced by the Cuban industry, to complete the 857 that make up the basic medicines required in the country.

The BioCubaFarma enterprise group meets 80% of domestic demand

The BioCubaFarma enterprise group meets 80% of domestic demand (with over 560 products), while MediCuba manages markets, establishes quantities, makes payments, and coordinates the movement of goods and their entry into Cuba. The Medical Supplies Enterprise then distributes drugs across the country’s network of pharmacies, hospitals, polyclinics and doctor’s clinics.

“We undertake highly sensitive work,” the engineer states, who has worked in the enterprise for 22 years. “We are the support to save the lives of many people, I think of those suffering from cancer, in need of cytostatic serums, and patients with cardiovascular and neurological diseases, who should take specific medicines. When we don’t have access to these, it has a negative impact on them, we must seek them out with the lowest possible cost and within the required time period.”

Zurama Martínez Osorio medicuba

Marketing specialist Zurama Martinez Osorio is conscious of the social benefits of her efforts in achieving a better quality of life for any patients.  Photo:  Anabel Diaz

Zurama Martínez Osorio, head of the Department of Medical Technology & Parts agreed. “Our population is benefited by the work of MediCuba, we import what the country cannot produce for lack of technology, or very specific products in small quantities. In addition, we bring in medical equipment and supplies to provide quality service. As such, the development achieved by Cuba in the field of health is closely linked to the enterprise,” the marketing specialist noted.

The institution has a portfolio of opportunities in the search for suppliers of artificial lungs, synthetic orthopedic resins, elastic tubular bandages, non-mercury thermometers, ultrasonic nebulizers, curing lights and components, disposables for heart surgery and autotransfusions, spinal anesthesia and epidural kits, surgical tables, and external fixators for fractures.

It also includes parenteral solutions, vaccines and immunoglobulins, reagents and culture media for in vitro fertilization, oncology, intensive care, urology and rehabilitation equipment, hemostatic sponges for surgery, high-quality conductive gel, post-operative drains, crucibles, argon plasma coagulators, sphygmomanometers, stethoscopes and pressure gauges, breast and orthopedic implants, among others.

In 2015, the company made purchases of over 400 million dollars

In 2015, the company made purchases of over 400 million dollars. This March, the procurement of goods to be imported for the year concluded, with guarantees of reaching the island at agreed-upon times, Martínez Osorio noted.

The economic solvency of the enterprise, backed by the Cuban state, also focuses on demanding quality standards in order to prevent tampering or forgeries, whose use may pose a health risk. As such, the enterprise follows strict guidelines, as outlined by the drug register of the State Center for Medicines and Medical Equipment (CECMED) and the certificates issued by the National Bureau of Standards.

The criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States hinders the enterprise’s activities

The specialist adds that the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States hinders the enterprise’s activities, despite steps taken toward normalization of relations. She asserts, “We still can not buy directly from U.S. suppliers, and must turn to third parties, which raises product and freight costs. Today major world banks are prosecuted and fined for carrying out transactions with Cuba and our enterprise is no exception to this situation.”

A similar opinion is offered by Solainy Fajardo Araujo, a senior specialist of the Department of Expendable Supplies, who told of the experience of arranging the purchase of orthopedic prostheses with a Spanish supplier. After signing the contract and once in the phase of invoicing, the contract was cancelled. The company was taken over by an American firm, which refused to trade with Cuba, citing fears of possible sanctions due to blockade laws.

We are aware of the social good we generate

The young specialist thoroughly enjoys her work, stating, “When we have to run around seeking a product and we finally manage to obtain it, we feel very pleased. We are aware of the social good we generate. We have received orders to save the life of a child or ward off the death of a cancer patient. At these moments, all energies are fully devoted to solving the problem, and one becomes more enthused every day with the work we undertake.”

The interviewees all highlighted the major challenges MediCuba faces in the immediate future. The first is to ensure the satisfaction of each and every client, improve efficiency in processes of import and export of medical products, and finally, based on the consistent application of the country’s regulations and better organization, achieve the status of foreign trading enterprise.

The enterprise is viewed as an organization of high social recognition, with capable and committed professionals, effectively guaranteeing imported supplies required by the national health system and in its provision of services abroad.

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