First published on 9 April 2012 Liberation News
The governments of Ukraine and Cuba have announced an agreement to build a treatment center for cancer patients in Ukraine.The two countries are also discussing jointly producing medicines to treat cancer and other chronic diseases. The online news service Ukrinform.com reports that the Ukrainian government will fund the center, while Cuba's renowned Centro de Inmunología Molecular in Havana will provide the medical technology and expertise.
ZAO Darnitsa, a Kiev-based state pharmaceutical company, is interested in jointly producing cancer drugs in Ukraine with Cuba, according to the news service.
“We know about the wonderful results of treatment of cancer patients, achieved by the Cuban doctors,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said. “And we are ready to create here such a center with you,” he told the head of a Cuban delegation that was in Kiev Feb. 28.
Cooperation between the two countries dates back to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. Since then, Cuba has treated thousands of Ukrainian children suffering from cancer and related illnesses at no charge. Prime Minister Azarov said, “I want to emphasize that Cuba is the only country that is so much concerned about the Ukrainian children."
Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, MP Nina Karpachova, best sums up socialist Cuba's long standing commitment to meeting working people's needs in her country and around the world: "Cuba has given highly effective, free health care to more than 23,000 Ukrainian children. More than 8,000 children diagnosed with hyperplasia of the thyroid gland were cured. ... Critically ill patients after cardiac operations performed at the cardiology department of children's hospital William Soler [in Havana, Cuba] returned to normal life. Unique orthopedic surgery has helped all of the [treated] children to preserve the ability to move. ... To carry out this program for the treatment of Chernobyl children, especially orphans, Cuba has spent over 350 million U.S. dollars."
These are socialist ideals in practice: Health care is a basic right, and socialist Cuba has worked for decades to provide it to its citizens and millions around the world, for free. In contrast, health care in the United States (and Britain) under capitalism is not a right but increasingly a commodity to exploit.