Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Amnesty International: end the embargo

Amnesty International says President Obama should “take the lead on lifting embargo against Cuba” in a report issued today. (Press release with link to report here.)

The report says that U.S. sanctions “are particularly affecting Cubans’ access to medicines and medical technologies and endangering the health of millions,” and while it is the Cuban government’s responsibility to provide health services, “governments imposing sanctions such as embargoes need to pay special attention to the impact they can have on the targeted country’s population.”

Amnesty reports that while both food and medical imports from the United States are permitted, Cuba purchased $710 million in agricultural products and only $1.2 million in medical products last year. It blames the low level of medical imports on a U.S. requirement that vendors monitor the end use of their products.

1 comment:

leftside said...

Some specific examples of the way the embargo harms the health of Cubans:

UNICEF reported that Cuba was unable to import nutritional products destined for children
and for consumption at schools, hospitals and day care centres. This had an adverse effect on the health and nutritional status of the population and is believed to be a contributing factor in the high prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia which in 2007 affected 37.5 per cent of children under three years old.56 Children’s health was also put at risk by a decision from syringe suppliers to cancel an order for 3 million disposable syringes by UNICEF’s Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization when it became known that the units were destined for the implementation of the programme in Cuba.

The number of children suffering from heart conditions who are waiting for appropriate treatment at a paediatric hospital has increased after Cuba was unable to buy from the US based companies the necessary medical equipment for their treatment. The companies allegedly refused to negotiate with Cuba because of the restrictions set by the US embargo.

The World Health Organization reported that “lack of access to products manufactured by United States companies such as St. Jude Medical, Boston Scientific and Amplatzer prevents the provision of proper care to seriously ill patients who need a pacemaker, St. Jude prosthetic valves or septal occluders, forcing their treatment with alternative, riskier surgical

Scarcity of medication and equipment has also affected treatment for children being treated at the National Institute of Oncology and Radiology. According to UNICEF “it has been impossible to purchase a positron emission tomography/computerized tomography (PET/CT) scanner, a state-of-the-art piece of medical equipment needed for treatment that is made by only three manufacturers worldwide, all unauthorized to negotiate with Cuba.”

Programmes to prevent and fight HIV/AIDS have also suffered from the embargo even when these are implemented by UN agencies. In 2006, the purchase of antiretroviral drugs by UNICEF in support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and Malaria was delayed, because major suppliers to UNICEF could not offer their products for the implementation of
Index: AMR 25/007/2009 Amnesty International September 2009

The US embargo against Cuba
Its impact on economic and social rights the Fund programmes in Cuba due to the US embargo. According to UN reports, transactions with more distant suppliers resulted in an increase in prices and delays in procurement of antiretrovirals.