Cuban Medical Education

Date: 2010
Owner: Jennifer Janviere
Source Type: Images


One of the first national institutions supporting and teaching medicine and research science was the National Center for Scientific Research (CENIC), which employed only twelve scientists in 1965. Yet by the 1990s, over 30,000 Cubans worked in the nation's 200+ research centers, the majority of which focused on health and biomedicine. Cuba also has some of the region's most prestigious medical schools, institutions that attract students from throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and many more distant developing nations. Pictured here is Havana's Latin American School of Medical Sciences (ELACM) which currently enrolls about 4000 students and offers free education and free room and board to an elite corps of students who would have been otherwise unable to afford medical school.

Today, Cuba's most renowned scientific centers are the institutions in the Western Havana Bio-Cluster, a bio-engineering complex with over fifty distinct institutions. The Finlay Institute was created in 1994 at a cost of 10,000,000 USD and, under the leadership of Concepcion Campa Huergo, produces several drugs including the world's first vaccine against meningitis B. Another institute in the bio-cluster, the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), produces drugs (like a cure for diabetic foot ulcer) as well as genetically engineered crops.  As of 2006, the CIGB had filed 117 patents in Cuba.

Cuba's medical institutions are also responsible for popularizing the island's health tourism industry. Centers like the Cira Garcia Clinic, which treats Vitiligo, offer incomparably cheap medical care (and the obvious attractions of Cuba's tropical beaches) for people throughout the world seeking affordable treatments.

The success of Cuba's scientific and medical research and teaching institutions is a rarity among developing nations. Few (if any) countries with its economic restraints have fostered such an internationally respected tradition, a feat that is all the more impressive because the subject of much of their work is in the cutting-edge field of bio-engineering.

CITATION: Jennifer Janviere. Latin American School of Medicine, Havana, Cuba. December, 2010.