The Impact of the U.S. Embargo
on Cuba's Health and Nutrition

excerpted from the book

Power Trip

U.S. Unilateralism and Global Strategy After September 11

edited by John Feffer

Seven Stories Press, 2003, paper

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.

Food Security:
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.

Water Quality:
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.

Women's Health:
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 during pregnancy.

Children's Health:
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 acute illnesses.

Hospital Care:
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 exports.

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 Information:
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.

Humanitarian Donations:
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 parts.


Source: American Association of World Health, "The Impact of the U.S. Embargo on Health and Nutrition in Cuba," 1997.

Power Trip

Index of Website

Home Page