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Disaster Medicine: U.S. Doctors Examine Cuba’s Approach

Center for International Policy
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Emergency medicine and public health officials from the U.S. Southeast and Gulf Coast made up the latest CIP delegation to Cuba in May to look at the island’s response to natural disasters, particularly hurricanes. That the system is effective is beyond doubt. Only a handful of Cubans died in the 16 major storms that battered the island over the last decade—and the likelihood of being killed by a hurricane in the United States is 15 times greater than in Cuba.

Led by Cuba Project Director Wayne Smith, this trip—the seventh in the series—focused on disaster medicine with special attention to the training of doctors and the community. In contrast to the United States, disaster medicine in Cuba is an integral part of the medical curriculum, and educating the public on how to respond begins in primary school.

The delegation also received spirited briefings on the state of U.S.-Cuba relations from both the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Interests Section.