Friday, July 24, 2020

MEDICAL AND SCIENTIFIC COLLABORATION BETWEEN SAN FRANCISCO AND CUBA. July 2020



International Committee 
For Peace, Justice and Dignity

SF BOARD OF SUPERVISORS PASSES HISTORIC RESOLUTION 
PROMOTING MEDICAL AND SCIENTIFIC COLLABORATION BETWEEN SAN FRANCISCO AND CUBA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - JULY 23, 2020
                             
CONTACTS
Vicki Legion: 415-235-0300; vlegion@ccsf.edu
David Paul: 415-994-5033; dpaul4peace@yahoo.com

On Tuesday, July 21st, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to pass a resolution (attached) to promote medical and scientific collaboration with Cuba to combat the COVID-19 global pandemic.  Supervisor Hillary Ronen was lead sponsor with Supervisors Peskin and Walton co-sponsoring.  The resolution calls upon the U.S. government to lift economic sanctions that restrict the evaluation and importation of promising anti-viral treatments that have been developed by Cuba's biotech industry.  

"I am proud to have sponsored this important resolution which passed unanimously," Supervisor Ronen remarked.  "Cuba is among the top countries that found effective treatments for Ebola and Swine Flu. Limiting cooperation [with Cuba] makes no sense.  This resolution is part of a wider movement," she continued, " no matter which administration is in power in Washington DC."

Vicki Legion, a long-time professor of public health at SF City College and adjunct at San Francisco State University, was enthusiastic about the possibilities for cooperation that the resolution opens up. "It is tragic that frontline medications developed by Cuba are blocked from use in the US by the cruel and unjust blockade of Cuba. Interferon Alfa2B is a leading pharmaceutical developed by Cuba's Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), and is a top medication in the Chinese formulary for treating coronavirus." If restrictions were lifted, Alfa2B could be incorporated into U.S. clinical trials and open the path for approval by the FDA.

Nesbit Crutchfield, a Richmond psychologist who has visited Cuba several times, commented on the particular importance of cooperation with Cuba for Black and Brown communities. "I am especially concerned with the disproportionate way in which the pandemic is ravaging communities of color in the Bay Area and around the country.  As a Black man living with many co-morbidities, I and my family would welcome the inclusion of Alpha2B into clinical trials. It is such a shame that Cuba has developed other highly effective medications, such as Heberprot-P that prevents 77% of diabetic amputations, but it is not available in the US because of  the blockade."

Similar resolutions have been recently been passed in Richmond and Berkeley as part of the  new Saving Lives Campaign launched in early May. Alicia Jrapko, co-chair of the National Network on Cuba, pointed out the significance of San Francisco's resolution "Given San Francisco's role as a global medical and bio-tech powerhouse, the resolution provides a direction for cooperative medical collaboration with Cuba that can have impact across the whole US."

David Paul, a nurse practitioner who has worked at SF General Hospital, noted that the resolution specifically encourages the SF Department of Health to explore collaborations with Cuba. "It is exciting that the resolution passed unanimously" Paul stated. "Now we need to make sure that concrete steps are taken to implement it."
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International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity

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