The Impact of the U.S. Embargo
on Cuba's Health and Nutrition
excerpted from the book
U.S. Unilateralism and Global
Strategy After September 11
edited by John Feffer
Seven Stories Press, 2003,
Drugs and Medical Equipment:
The Cuban Democracy Act (1992), by forbidding foreign subsidiaries
of U.S. companies from selling to Cuba, posed new and almost insurmountable
obstacles to the sale of medicines and medical supplies.
U.S. sanctions reduce Cuba's import capacity for basic foodstuffs.
Shipping regulations and the ban on direct and subsidiary trade
in food close Cuba off from an otherwise natural market.
The embargo contributes to serious cutbacks in supplies of safe
drinking water and was a factor in the increase in morbidity rates
in the 1990s.
HIV Infection and AIDS:
The embargo limits access to life-prolonging drugs for Cuban HIV/AIDS
patients, and otherwise impairs prevention, diagnosis, treatment,
and research in this field.
The U.S. embargo directly contributes to lapses in prevention,
diagnosis, therapeutic and surgical treatments of breast cancer;
diminished alternatives for contraception; gaps in availability
of in-vitro genetic testing resources; reduced access to medications
associated with pregnancy, labor and delivery; and deficient nutrition
Cuba's economic crisis, exacerbated by embargo restrictions, exacts
a toll on children's health, particularly in neonatology, immunizations,
pediatric hospital care, access to medicines, and treatment of
The economic crisis and the U.S. embargo have seriously eroded
surgery, radiology, clinical services, and access to medication,
hospital nutrition, and hygiene.
The U.S. embargo bars Cubans' access to state-of-the-art cancer
treatment under U.S. patent, subjects all diagnosis and treatment-related
imports to delays due to the shipping ban, and hinders domestic
research, development, and production due to the ban on biotech-related
The U.S. embargo constitutes a direct threat to patient care,
by denying Cuban heart patients access to lifesaving medications
and equipment only available in the United States.
The embargo limits the chance of survival of Cuban patients with
chronic renal failure, increases their suffering, and adds significant
expense to already costly care.
Professional Advancement and Scientific
The embargo remains a formidable barrier to the free flow of ideas
and scientific information between Cuban medical researchers and
their colleagues in the United States.
Donations do not compensate to any major degree for the hardships
inflicted by the embargo on the health of the Cuban people. There
are restrictions placed on charitable donations from the United
States. similar to those placed on commercial trade. Contributions
rarely match needs in terms of specific drugs, equipment, or replacement
Source: American Association of World
Health, "The Impact of the U.S. Embargo on Health and Nutrition
in Cuba," 1997.