China, Cuba unite to fight disease
Published Oct 4, 2005 10:40 PM
The Chinese-Cuban Biotech Pharmaceutical Co. opened its Beijing factory on Sept. 28—the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two socialist countries.
Cuba was the first country in the Americas to recognize People’s China, which it did shortly after its own 1959 revolution. Until then, U.S. pressure had prevented countries in this hemisphere from establishing normal relations with the People's Republic for over a decade.
According to the Cuban newspaper Ahora, this facility will produce the TheraCIM h-R3 monoclonal antibody to treat neck and head cancer. The German drug maker Oncoscience is also interested in this medicine.
Two days before the Beijing plant was opened, a vaccine factory using Cuban technology started up in China’s northeastern Jilin province. In 1999, Cuba had donated over a million dollars worth of hepatitis B vaccines to areas in China that suffered floods.
At a time when people all over the world are concerned about a possible flu pandemic, this collaboration between Cuba and China to develop vaccines is great news.
Before 1949 Shanghai symbolized human misery under capitalism. Bodies of beggars who died of starvation were stacked on the streets.
Then, 56 years ago, on Oct. 1, 1949, Mao Zedong declared "China has stood up." The People’s Republic of China was born. Today Shanghai has a lower infant mortality rate than New York City.
On Sept. 23, 1965, Chinese scientists produced the world’s first synthetic insulin. This was a boon for diabetics all over the world. Natural insulin was often in short supply.
It was extra special news for Cuba. The inhuman U.S. trade embargo of Cuba, inaugurated by President John F. Kennedy, was already in its fourth year.
Cuba was blocked from buying any medicine from the United States. The Soviet Union, which gave a great amount of other aid to Cuba, produced barely enough insulin for its own needs.
Pentagon war criminals devilishly calculated that if thousands of Cuban diabetics slowly died after being cut off from insulin, their families would turn against the revolution.
Forty years later the U.S. embargo of Cuba continues. But little Cuba has become a medical superpower that is now helping China.
Even according to the CIA's online World Factbook, Cuban babies are now more likely to live until their first birthday than infants in the United States. That’s what socialist revolutions accomplish.
In the early years of the Cuban Revolution, four-fifths of the country’s doctors had been lured to Miami. Czechoslovakia, which at that time was a socialist country, trained a new generation of Cuban physicians. Cuban leader Fidel Castro paid tribute in a 1968 speech to this tremendous labor contribution by Czech, Slovak, Roma and Hungarian workers in Czechoslovakia.
The Cuban leader is now offering to send 1,586 doctors to help the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. George Bush—who let poor people, mostly Black, drown in New Orleans—is refusing Cuban or Venezuelan help.
Cuba became the first country on the planet to immunize its people against meningitis. At least 300 people die every year in the United States from this disease. Their deaths are directly linked to Washington's embargo on Cuban products. They could have been inoculated with the meningitis B vaccine developed by the Finlay Institute, one of 52 research institutes in Havana.
This scientific powerhouse is named after Dr. Carlos Finlay, who found that mosquitoes were the carriers of yellow fever. It was one of the greatest medical discoveries of all time, yet Finlay was passed over for a Nobel Prize. History textbooks in the United States usually ignore this Cuban scientist and give all the credit to vanquishing yellow fever to U.S. Army doctor Walter Reed.
Even with this rich scientific legacy, Cuba couldn’t even produce a single aspirin when Fidel Castro and Dr. Che Guevara marched into Havana in 1959 at the head of the Rebel Army that overthrew the U.S.-supported dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Today the Caribbean country is able to make 80 percent of the medicines it needs. Cuban pharmaceutical exports are expected to reach $300 million in 2005.
Twelve thousand Cuban scientists are working to fight disease. Then-Assistant Secretary of State John Bolton slandered them in 2002 when he charged they were developing "biological weapons." George W. Bush has appointed this liar to be his ambassador to the United Nations.
People’s China has been virtually integrated into the capitalist world market, and the once remarkable equality there has suffered. Recently, however, the Chinese government announced it was cutting the price of 400 medicines by as much as 40 percent.
No capitalist government is doing any such thing, least of all the one that occupies Washington, D.C., where the very high infant mortality figures reveal the colonial relationship of the state to the majority-Black population in the city.
The Bush regime is as much a tool of the big drug companies as it is a front for Big Oil. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used to be head of drug maker G.D. Searle, whose assets now belong to Pfizer’s pharmaceutical empire. It was pressure from Rumsfeld that got the Food and Drug Administration to approve Searle’s artificial sweetener aspartame after it refused to do so for a decade because of health concerns.
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