Reflections by Comrade Fidel
WITH A CLEAR CONSCIENCE
I would not have wished to utter any harsh criticism against any of the companies that manufacture medical equipment, whose profits do not derive from the production of weapons to kill, but from the combat of diseases, suffering and death. That is why I have always treated all of them with respect, and I liked to exchange with them about their scientific advances.
Something quite different is thinking bitterly about those countries which do not have these equipment; sadder still is the fact that a country from the Third World realizes that all its efforts are hindered because of a stupid measure imposed by a rich and powerful country on those who manufacture those equipment: to discontinue the supply of spare parts required for their use.
Cuban cardiology specialists both in
In our country, cardiopathies
account for the first cause of death; in
The 12 different Philips equipment which were bought at a price of 72 762 694 dollars, were all indispensable to offer high-quality services in Cuba and in the ‘Barrio Adentro’ No.1 and No. 2 programs in Venezuela, which were being implemented with the participation of Cuban doctors and specialists. Those equipment were bought and paid for by our country, as had been previously agreed.
The Siemens equipment, with the exception of some
that were sent to
Philips does not question the data published. The complete discontinuation in the supply of spare parts started as from the end of the year 2006; almost three years have elapsed ever since.
That firm recognizes that the demands of the US government had been the reason behind the discontinuation of supplies until recently, when it paid a fine of 100 000 Euros, a ludicrous figure as compared to the 72 millions that were paid to that company for those equipment.
As far as we understood, there was no violation whatsoever of any of the rules imposed on the world by the empire. We were dealing with medical equipment, destined to save lives; those are not weapons.
In January, 2007, the Bush administration appointed
John Negroponte –the scourge of the Nicaraguan people during the dirty war that
was waged against that country, which began in 1981 from the Yankee base of Palmerola in
Social programs in
I already explained the decision taken by President
Hugo Chávez which gave rise to our cooperation
programs. Likewise, on the early days of
2007, he came across the idea of adding the ‘Barrio Adentro’
No. 3 program to the already existing ‘Barrio Adentro’
No. 1 and No. 2 programs. This new program would be carried out by Venezuelan
doctors and the cost of the equipment would be covered by
Chávez, who knew very well about our experience in
negotiating with the medical equipment manufacturing firms, and the excellent
prices that we got, given the volume of the operations, asked our country to
buy medical equipment, instruments and inputs hundreds of millions of dollars
worth. The aim of such an investment was
to incorporate a significant number of hospitals to the services that were
being offered to the Venezuelan people through ‘Barrio Adentro’
No. 1 and No. 2 programs; all of these were in addition to the program in Cuba
to train thousands of Venezuelan youths for them to become doctors ready to
offer their services anywhere, both inside or outside the country. The graduates from the Latin American School
of Medicine are an encouraging proof of their spirit of sacrifice. Even in
20 000 students of Medicine.
Our staff made contact again with the best firms that supplied medical equipment, components and furniture, with the exception –of course- of the US companies, which were completely banned from sending even the tiniest supply to Cuba.
Although the medical equipment manufactured by that
country are of quality, their prices are quite often
abusively high. In the international
market there are specialized firms whose equipment are considered to be the
world’s best. It is perfectly possible to dispense with the
In the most industrialized countries of the old
Europe, where the health rates are also higher than those in the
I am pleased to see that the strategy followed by the Cuban enterprise specialized in the purchase of medical equipment has strictly observed the principles established in previous purchases.
More than 50 well known firms were considered. I will just mention the ones that competed in
quality and price. The biggest volume
was negotiated with the German firm Siemens -73 910 000 dollars; Drager, 37 277 000 dollars; Toshiba, 36 123 000 dollars;
Nihon Kohden, 30 516 000 dollars. We also signed contracts with
Considering the standards of quality and price, we would have bought from the Dutch company Philips, which was considered and included among the most important firms, a total value of
63 065 000 dollars.
But that moment coincided with the discontinuation of the supplies of
spare parts for the equipment already bought from that firm which were
Not all of the equipment of the total amount agreed have been received in
In addition to that, we intend to make the necessary
effort to take ‘Barrio Adentro’ No. 1 and No. 2
programs to unheard-of levels by incorporating more than 2 500 advanced
students of Medicine who are being trained in
medical assistance to patients was always the raison d’être of the doctors’ offices, the
No one can compete today with the
We will not refuse to deal with any company willing to manufacture or trade in medical technologies. We will gladly accept any rectification. Humanity has to cope with very difficult problems. I wish our species is not faced with disaster, and many of us could have a clear conscience for having done our best to prevent it.
Fidel Castro Ruz
September 10, 2009