Cholera Appears

Photo by Rebeca

From the posters placed around the city urging people to protect themselves from cholera through a set of preventive measures, the increase is visits to doctors and nurses asking about acute diarrheal symptoms, the prohibition of offering smoothies, natural drinks and even water, if they are not industrially canned or bottled, in coffee shops and other establishments,  hand washing with chlorinated water at the entrance to some shops, and the disclosure statement that appeared in the press yesterday, it appears that the Cholera has reached Havana.

Cholera had been eradicated in Cuba by the end of the colonial era. Its reappearance is due mainly to two reasons: the inefficiency of the health authorities and social indiscipline. In Havana, with its disastrous health and hygiene situation, it will be somewhat difficult to eradicate: there is garbage everywhere, the streets are dirty and destroyed, neither swept nor scrubbed, landslides and debris accumulated in vacant lots, sewage pours day and night, water leaks from the pipes and, thus, contamination, collecting tanks without lids are exposed to the weather, all these are just some  of the manifestations, the reasons.

It is incomprehensible that a government that prides itself on attending international forums dealing with of medical and health in dozens of countries around the world, sometimes from humanitarian impulses and other times from economic and political interest, is unable to provide safe sanitation to its citizens.

It is not enough to have hospitals, polyclinics, doctors’ offices and thousands of health professionals, if the quality of the services offered is low, and many of the installations face  major problems in hygiene, sanitation and construction, in addition to the habitual lack of medicines.

Now that cholera has arrived, the most important thing its to confront it: the sanitation authorities efficiently and responsibly doing their duty, and the citizens taking the measures indicated to protect themselves and to help to reestablish social discipline.

Although the press release said that “it is in the process of being eradicated,” we hope that this wasn’t a part of the habitual triumphalism, and that cholera won’t follow the example of what happened to us with dengue fever, which never existed in Cuba and which they repeatedly announce is eradicated, but which in fact had become endemic.

January 16 2013

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