CubaBrief: 11 year old Cuban boy with leukemia granted humanitarian parole to get treatment in Miami. PAHO implicated in profiting off trafficked Cuban doctors. Myth of Cuban health care

José Camilo Cateura Díaz, 11 year old Cuban boy with leukemia, granted visa to get treatment in Miami.

The Castro regime and their apologists claim that Cuba is a medical superpower, and provides universal health care. These claims are repeated by international organizations, but facts are in conflict with this widely repeated narrative.The Hospital Hermanos Ameijares in Cuba has conducted hundreds of bone marrow transplants for over 30 years. Why is Havana not helping José Camilo Cateura Díaz, an 11-year old Cuban boy with leukemia? Why does his family have to seek treatment in Miami? Why did Elian Lopez, a 48-year old Cuban suffering from colon cancer, risk his life windsurfing to the United States to obtain further medical treatment in March 2022?

Daniel Raisbeck and John Osterhoudt at Reason on April 18, 2022 premiered a documentary on “The Myth of Cuban Health Care” that is required viewing. Not mentioned in their documentary is that other Latin American countries ( Costa Rica, and Chile ) rate higher than the U.S. on international indices with regards to their healthcare systems, but are rarely mentioned as models to emulate. Despite Cuba’s unreliable and inflated statistics, its health care system still rates lower than the United States.

It is apparent that corruption and political influence peddling by the Castro dictatorship is impacting international organizations that measure healthcare outcomes, and make recommendations on what country’s healthcare system to emulate.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO), has been implicated in scandals involving the failure to report a viral outbreak of Zika in Cuba in 2017, and Mary O’ Grady in her April 12, 2020 column in The Wall Street Journal reported how PAHO was profiting off the trafficking of Cuban doctors in an arrangement with Havana and called for an audit.

PAHO is facing legal proceedings for this relationship with the Castro dictatorship. A three-judge panel of the D.C. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided unanimously that PAHO “must face a lawsuit by Cuban doctors accusing it of helping arrange a program in which they were compelled to work in Brazil against their will, violating human trafficking laws,” reported Brendan Pierson for Reuters on March 30, 2022.

Pierson said that “according to the lawsuit, Cuba and Brazil used PAHO as an intermediary in order to avoid a direct agreement between the two countries which would have had to be approved by the Brazilian parliament.” According to the same report “the Cuban government received 85% of the money paid by Brazil, with just 10% going to the doctors and 5% retained by PAHO as a fee. The funds passed through PAHO’s U.S.-based bank account.”

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) building in Washington DC.

PAHO is recommending that other countries copy the Cuba model, but what does that mean in reality?

The Cuban government substantially under-counted deaths during a disease outbreak that killed huge numbers of Cubans. This has been the case in the past with dengue, cholera, and now with COVID-19. Two numbers stand out: 354 and 550. In the United States, which had well publicized challenges and failures during COVID-19, excess deaths were 354/100,000. While Cuba, which was touted as a success story, had a worse outcome with 550/100,000 excess deaths. The Economist on August 3, 2022 reported that “up to 62,000 Cubans may have died as a result of the pandemic. That 600% increase over the official toll.”

Cuban officials decided early on that they wanted to be “be the first country in the world to vaccinate their whole population with their own vaccines,” and were willing to let Cubans die while they developed their domestic vaccines instead of importing them, including from their allies Russia and China in order to advance their “healthcare superpower” narrative.

Miami Herald, December 22, 2022

U.S. allows Cuban boy with leukemia to get medical treatment in Miami

By ROSE MONIQUE VARELA HENRIQUEZ

​José Camilo Cateura Díaz, a Cuban boy facing an aggravated case of blood cancer, sits on a stretcher at the Institute of Hematology and Immunology in Havana, Cuba. Judith Díaz Valentí

After a seemingly endless wait, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted humanitarian parole to José Camilo Cateura Díaz, an 11-year-old Cuban boy who has leukemia and needs treatment in Miami.

The agency received the case of Milo, as his family affectionately calls him, in October, but it was not until Wednesday, Dec. 21, that the visa was granted.

Milo is in Havana’s Institute of Hematology and Immunology, where he had to receive a platelet transfusion to stabilize him before the trip.

[…]

It is hoped that he will go into remission in about a month. Then he will be prepared for a bone-marrow transplant in about three months.

[ Full article ]

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/us-allows-cuban-boy-to-get-medical-care-in-miami/ar-AA15A1rh

From the archives

Reuters, March 29, 2022

Public health org must face Cuban doctors’ trafficking claims

By Brendan Pierson

  • Appeals court rejects PAHO’s claim of immunity for transactions in U.S.

  • Doctors say they were forced to work in Brazil under threat of punishment

(Reuters) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), an international body that promotes health initiatives in the Americas, must face a lawsuit by Cuban doctors accusing it of helping arrange a program in which they were compelled to work in Brazil against their will, violating human trafficking laws.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Tuesday that PAHO’s status as an international organization did not make it immune from the lawsuit because the doctors had accused it of financial misconduct within the United States.

PAHO and Samuel Dubbin of Dubbin & Kravetz, a lawyer for the doctors, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case, brought by four doctors in 2018 in the Southern District of Florida and transferred in 2020 to Washington, D.C., district court, centers on the so-called Mais Medicos, or More Doctors, program, in which Cuba in 2012 agreed to send doctors to work in Brazil, which would pay for their services.

According to the lawsuit, Cuba and Brazil used PAHO as an intermediary in order to avoid a direct agreement between the two countries which would have had to be approved by the Brazilian parliament.

The Cuban government received 85% of the money paid by Brazil, with just 10% going to the doctors and 5% retained by PAHO as a fee. The funds passed through PAHO’s U.S.-based bank account

The doctors in their lawsuit said that they had escaped from the program to the United States. They alleged they were forced to work under the threat of punishment by their government and paid far less than the value of their work. They are seeking to represent a class of similarly situated doctors in the program.

The doctors said that PAHO violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act by facilitating the program.

PAHO moved to dismiss the lawsuit, citing a U.S. law that gives international organizations the same immunity from being sued as foreign governments under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg agreed that claims related to PAHO’s activities outside the United States were barred, and dismissed them. However, he said claims could proceed based on PAHO’s financial activity because the FSIA does not apply when an action “is based upon a commercial activity carried on in the United States.”

On appeal, PAHO argued that the doctors’ action was not “based upon” the financial transactions in the United States, but rather on foreign conduct. In Tuesday’s opinion penned by U.S. Circuit Judge Karen Henderson, the D.C. Circuit said that the financial transactions, allegedly made in furtherance of trafficking, could stand on their own as a cause of action.

Circuit Judges David Tatel and Cornelia Pillard joined in the opinion.

U.S. officials have previously said that Cuba relies on forced labor in “medical missions” abroad for income.

The case is Rodriguez v. Pan American Health Organization, D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, No. 20-7114.

For PAHO: David Bowker of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr

For the doctors: Samuel Dubbin of Dubbin & Kravetz

https://www.reuters.com/legal/litigation/public-health-org-must-face-cuban-doctors-trafficking-claims-2022-03-29/

The Washington Post, April 5, 2021

Letters to the Editor

Opinion: Cuba’s powerhouse status comes through repression

April 5, 2021 at 4:35 p.m. EDT

The March 31 news article “Cuba could become a vaccine powerhouse” pointed out that Havana wants to soften its image as a “broadly authoritarian country” that has done “some pretty bad things.” Cuban doctors and journalists who raised the alarm in prior outbreaks on the island were locked up and punished.

Desi Mendoza Rivero was arrested on June 25, 1997, for warning about a dengue epidemic in Cuba. On Nov. 24, 1997, he was sentenced to eight years in prison for “enemy propaganda.” Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience and campaigned for his freedom. Dr. Rivero’s claims were eventually confirmed, and he was forcibly exiled.

On Sept. 2, 2016, the Associated Press reported that Cuba had “remarkable success in containing Zika virus.” On Jan. 8, 2019, New Scientist reported the whole story when the facts became known: “Cuba failed to report thousands of Zika virus cases in 2017.”

Repression patterns during this pandemic in Cuba indicate officials seek to downplay covid-19’s severity on the island. According to Duane Gubler at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, “Cuba has a history of not reporting epidemics until they become obvious,” and that is pretty bad.

John Suarez, Falls Church

The writer is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/letters-to-the-editor/cubas-powerhouse-status-comes-through-repression/2021/04/05/5956ab80-93c6-11eb-aadc-af78701a30ca_story.html