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U.S. medical humanitarian organization Global Health Partners has received a license from the U.S. Commerce Department in a victory for an international solidarity campaign to donate much-need syringes to Cuba in support of its mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19.
According to Global Health Partners' website, the Saving Lives Campaign and Global Health Partners are building a broad-based, urgent drive to supply vital medical tools to Cuba, which has a shortage of 20 million syringes critical to the goal of vaccinating the entire Cuban population against COVID-19.
The organizations are committed to raising $100,000 in May to start rushing syringes to Cuba and ask supporters to show their solidarity with the country that has committed so much for the health of its people and struggling communities around the world.
Over the past year alone, the organization notes, Cuba has sent 3,700 health workers, in 52 international medical brigades, to 39 countries overwhelmed by the pandemic. Global Health Partners reports that Cuba’s international medical brigades have treated patients and saved lives for the past 15 years in 53 countries confronting natural disasters and severe epidemics, such as the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
Cuba has developed five internationally recognized candidate COVID-19 vaccines, with two in Phase III clinical trials as of May 2021. The island's population is 11.3 million people. Still, Cuba plans to produce 100 million doses of vaccine to meet its commitment to sharing its low-cost vaccines with developing countries in the world.
To this end, Global Health Partners has received a rare and relatively inaccessible U.S. Commerce Department license to send medical supplies to Cuba, necessary due to US export restrictions resulting from the 60-year trade embargo on the island nation.
While humanitarian shipments of food and medications from the United States to Cuba may legally be permitted with the use of a Treasury and/or Commerce Department-specific license, restrictive "end-user verification" requirements as well as over compliance concerns and outrights refusals from US-based banking and financial services providers to process Cuba-related transactions make these humanitarian gestures excessively difficult in practice.
To date, Cuban residents and solidarity organizations from Canada, Panama, Spain, the United Kingdom, and numerous countries in Latin America have joined the global solidarity campaign to send Cuba syringes and needles in support of its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, with hundreds of thousands of dollars and millions of syringes already having been donated to date.
Cuba is facing a syringe shortage due to the U.S. embargo! At CODEPINK, we’re teaming up with The People's Forum, The Saving Lives Campaign, and Global Health Partners to bring much-needed syringes and medical supplies to Cuba. pic.twitter.com/T7hy67Gx7T