Evil, wicked Cuba–biotech giant?


From the Beeb

Health ministry officials say Cuba’s $1.8bn (£1bn) and growing tourism industry will soon be overtaken as the number one foreign exchange earner by biotechnology joint ventures, vaccine exports and the provision of health services to other countries.

Successful clinical trials in several countries have already established Cuba as a world leader in cancer research and treatment.

Last year, Cuba’s health budget was boosted by a doubling in biotech exports to $300m, and the country earns fees from foreign patients and from exporting other medicinal products and diagnostic equipment and machines.

Amazing! And to think there are some who said this little island would lose Fidel Castro if they only starved it into submission? Looks like someone’s gotta eat their words. I’m thinking here specifically of a certain trade embargo

And get a load of this, too:

German biotech firm Oncoscience is holding clinical trials of anti-cancer drug TheraCIM h_R3, which it hopes to get registered, and Californian Cancervax is expected to test another Cuban cancer treatment after Washington agreed to make an exception to its trade embargo.

“If we get access to the Western market, then this hi-tech sector could become the locomotive of the entire Cuban economy,” says Dr Rolando Perez, scientist at the Centre of Molecular Immunology (CIM).

And lest you think this is just some flash in the pan, I submit:

During the 1990s, Cuba became the first country to develop and market a vaccine for meningitis B, and this sent export earnings soaring. Then there was a surge in exports of its hepatitis B vaccine, which is currently being shipped to 30 countries, including China, India, Russia, Pakistan and Latin American countries.

But what really gets me is this:

Whatever the cause of Cuba’s difficulties, its many dilapidated buildings, ramshackle shops and frequent power cuts bear witness to the way its crumbling, underdeveloped economy coexists with the country’s advanced medical and scientific sector.

Cuba’s development model is based on harnessing the nation’s wealth in human resources and science to a create a knowledge -based economy focused around health, according to the 79-year-old president.

“Someone might think that we are going bankrupt,” President Castro said at a recent conference.

“No. We are improving. Human capital is worth far more than financial capital.”

Say what, Fidel? Surely you jest…that extra bit of income can’t be hurting you any, either. Might even make a few Cubans hungry for more of the same. But then again:

“We know that in the US scientists are highly paid. I receive only 665 pesos a month (less than US$40),” observes Dr Perez.

But “we work in a environment of fulfilment and innovation”, he says, pointing towards a laboratory full of scientists.

“You are free to interview any of them.

“We are highly motivated, not by money and commercial profit, but by a commitment to saving lives. We have not lost any of them. Nobody has defected to the US.”

Pretty damn amazing, considering how many people think it a truism that the US just vacuums up brains from all over the globe with the lure of a ton of cash, and noplace else can hope to compete. Sort of blows the hell out of the idea that money is the main motivator to do a job well, too. A scientist who enjoys the work of science for science’s sake? Who would rather save lives than just rake in the dough and the accolades? Heresy!

Most interesting of all, those Cuban doctors who DO leave the country to practice medicine elsewhere, aren’t going to the US. Guess where they ARE going?

Under a recent agreement, Cuba has sent 14,000 medics to provide free health care to people living in Venezuela’s barrios, or shantytowns, where many have never seen a doctor before.

In addition Venezuelan patients can receive free surgery and specialised treatment in Cuban hospitals.

In return, Venezuela is slashing its oil bill to Cuba by up to a quarter over a 15-year period in a deal estimated to be worth up to $1bn, thus securing the supplies of 90,000 barrels of oil a day to the cash-strapped Cuban economy.

It may not meet the IMF’s approval, but it IS called TRADE, people. Fair trade, as opposed to the fraud that is “free” trade. (Free for whom, I wonder? Considering how much it costs, both financially and in human terms, it seems a lot to pay for a heap of horseshit.)

Nope, this is not a fluke. This has all the hallmarks of a pattern in the making.

Once again, socialism proves that it is benefiting everyone–even the most ostrich-like American arch-capitalists. Bwahahahaha!

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