US Signs Cancer Treatment Deals With Cuba, But Blockade Remains

The two countries reopened their respective embassies in July 2015, but the blockade remains in effect.

(Telesur) – Cuba and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding Friday to cooperate in monitoring, research and evaluation of cancer.

The document was signed by Cuban Minister of Public Health Roberto Morales and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell in Havana.

The agreement is aimed at implementing bilateral projects as well as organizing meetings, conferences and workshops on the subject of fighting known forms of cancer.

Both countries will exchange information and best practices in matters of research and monitoring, along with other areas to control the rising number of cases of the disease.

After the signing, which took place in Cuba’s Ministry of Health, the U.S. official said her country is interested in working together with Cuba in areas such as cancer treatment.

“We want to move forward on this path,” said Burwell, who added the U.S. is willing to cooperate with Cuban doctors in finding ways to prevent cancer on the island and in the U.S.

“We want to work on both prevention and detection,” said Burwell. “We want to determine what the best tools are, improve knowledge of standard treatments and generate a response that will allow us to work on improving the service we provide to our people.”

The measure is a positive step in moving relations forward but remains limited due to the financial and commercial blockade that continues to hurt the island after more than five decades. Cuba presented a report this year that indicated the U.S. blockade has cost the island a staggering US$753.7 billion.

In December 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a normalization of relations after more than 50 years of hostilities. The two countries reopened their respective embassies in July 2015, but the blockade remains in effect. It was imposed after the victory of the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro which overthrew the regime of Fulgencio Batista, a U.S.-backed dictator.

The U.N. General Assembly has consistently voted to condemn the blockade, with only the U.S. and Israel opposing last year. On October 26, countries will once again vote on the blockade and Cuba can rest assured it will have staunch support from the international community.