The Cuban government has announced a nationwide campaign to fight skin cancer ahead of World Cancer Day, celebrated annually on Feb. 4.
Participating groups are normally tasked with distributing literature that raises awareness about the disease while mapping out prevention, detection and treatment centers to the general public.
Cuba’s socialist government is taking World Cancer Day a step further — it’s sending trained dermatologists to hospitals, factories, worker centers, military bases, schools and other institutions across the country to provide free, on-the-spot checkups and consultations.
While the country’s Ministry of Public Health, MINSAP, will also provide similar services for other forms of cancer, the institution is doubling down on skin cancer.
Dr. Olaine Gray, National Coordinator of MINSAP’s Skin Cancer Task Force, says skin cancer ranks first in Cuba among other forms of the disease, the Cuban News Agency reports. The Caribbean island currently has the second highest rate of cancer in Latin America with a mortality rate of 143 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, the Havana Times adds.
Despite Cuba’s preponderance to cancer, the Communist Party-run government continues to invest millions of dollars into training new generations of specialists.
“Our professionals will continue to be the main strength of the public health system and a pillar in the materialization of the dreams of justice for Cuba and other peoples of the world,” MINSAP wrote in a Feb. 3 statement.
Cuba’s medical system is world renowned for its internationalism.
Since the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the Caribbean island has trained more than 80,000 doctors from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the United States, Pakistan, and China, free of charge.
Since 1969, 325,710 health workers from Cuba have participated in missions in 158 countries. In Africa alone, 76,744 had offered their services in 39 countries.
Last December, the Cuban government sent dozens of Latin American School of Medicine graduates on a delegation to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota to treat wounded and sick protesters.
“While Cuba instilled in us an unwavering commitment to internationalism, with the acceptance of a full scholarship to medical school at ELAM, we made the moral commitment to respond to the needs of our most vulnerable communities here at home in the U.S.,” delegation participant Dr. Revery P. Barnes wrote in a statement.
World Cancer Day, founded in 2008 by the Union for International Cancer Control, raises the slogan “We can, I can.”