Top US health official heads to Cuba

STAT Morning Rounds - Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell heads to Cuba today to talk Zika efforts and international health issues. The Pan American Health Organization, the WHO’s arm in the Americas, is hosting a meeting on Zika treatment and prevention efforts today. Burwell will be also visiting Cuban health centers and meeting with Roberto Morales Ojeda, who runs the Cuban equivalent of HHS. The trip is part of a bigger push to foster cooperation after diplomatic relations were restored in 2015. Just last week, President Obama gave the go-ahead to new measures that’ll curtail the economic embargo on Cuba and allow more pharma products produced in Cuba to be sold in the US.

Burwell’s visit coincides with a new paper analyzing the budding relationship between the two health care systems. The paper — penned by public health expert Dr. C. William Keck — was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “[Cuba] has managed to make prevention-oriented primary care, as well as secondary and tertiary care, available to all of its citizens,” Keck writes. He says the US can take a page or two from Cuba’s book when it comes to establishing that kind of care.

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