Cancer care in Cuba

CIMEQ, the Havana hospital where Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is undergoing cancer treatment.

CIMEQ, the Havana hospital where Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is undergoing cancer treatment.

The Centro de Investigaciones Médico Quirúrgicas, CIMEQ (http://www.cimeq.org), the Cuban hospital treating  Hugo Chavez, is the subject of articles by Reuters http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/14/us-cuba-chavez-hospital-idUSBRE90D16920130114 and the Associated Press http://news.yahoo.com/chavez-reportedly-exclusive-cuba-hospital-195249250.html and both news agencies observe there is little outward sign of the Venezuelan leader’s presence there. The hospital has a wing for foreigners and VIPs and its website (http://www.cimeq.org/es) lists 16 medical services, including 24 different cosmetic  surgical procedures.

Another option offered to paying cancer patients is a regime of alternative treatments by the La Coronacion travel agency in Havana. Billed as “the first Touristic Package designed to provide homeopathic natural oncological treatment in Cuba,” the agency offers 7, 15 and 21-day stays that include accommodation at the Hotel Club Acuario, transfers, a medical consultation and a combination of four nutritional and homeopathic remedies http://cuba-yes.com/en/health/cancer-medical-package.php.

One of these products is Vidatox 30CH, a medication derived from scorpion venom produced by the Cuban state biotechnology company Labiofam.  According to Labiofam’s web site (http://www.labiofamcuba.com), “the venom  from the Cuban scorpion Rhopalurus junceus has been shown to have antitumoral and antimetastatic activity on solid tumors” and “represents a potential therapeutic alternative for the treatment of neoplastic disease in humans.”

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