Treating Vitiligo in Cuba

Date: 2006
Owner: Matarese
Source Type: Images


The Tarara Hospital in Havana, Cuba, specializes in the treatment of vitiligo, a skin pigment disorder that--though found worldwide--is most common in the tropics.  In the mid 1970s, Cuban Ob/Gyn Carlos Miyares Cao discovered a substance in the human placenta which stimulates pigmentation, and he soon realized that it cured the symptoms of vitiligo. By the mid 1980s, Cao had treated over 800 cases of vitiligo from twenty four countries (including a large number of Brazilians) and, in 1985, he became the director of the world's first center for vitiligo treatment, the Cira Garcia Clinic. This clinic was among the first institutions that gave rise to Cuba's health tourism industry, which attracts people to the island from all over the world for affordable treatments. 1986 saw the construction of the Placental Histotherapy Center (also directed by Cao), which manufactured several products from placental chemicals including Melaginina (the vitiligo medicine), dietary supplements, and even cosmetics and shampoos. Perhaps more importantly, Cuba's emphasis on this ailment raised global awareness, spawning support groups and clinics for people with a disease that had hitherto been widely ignored in the U.S. and Europe (Feinsilver 1993).

Although vitiligo is just one of several maladies that resulted from the Chernobyl disaster, Cuba has provided medical treatment (and a tropical getaway) to patients affected by its radiation. The Tarara Hospital pictured here has helped over twenty thousand persons poisoned by Chernobyl, most of them children.

CITATION: Tarara Hospital in Havana, Cuba.