The United States and Cuba — Turning Enemies into Partners for Health

In June 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health signed an umbrella accord that promises to make health a cornerstone of the new era of cooperation between the two countries. The memorandum of understanding (MOU), signed by HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Minister Roberto Morales Ojeda, is the latest expression of goodwill since the December 2014 rapprochement that renewed diplomatic relations and reopened embassies in Washington and Havana. According to the HHS announcement, the MOU “establishes coordination across a broad spectrum of public health issues, including global health security, communicable and non-communicable diseases, research and development, and information technology.”1 Finally the door has been opened for bilateral collaboration aimed at preventing and controlling diseases that affect people in both countries — including infectious threats such as Zika as well as cancer and other chronic conditions that are the main causes of death in the United States and Cuba…..more

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