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May 8, 2003

Fidel highlights efforts to prevent disabilities

From: Granma International, Cuba - May 8, 2003

Havana. May 8,  2003

PRESIDENT Fidel Castro yesterday highlighted Cuban efforts to prevent disabilities, particularly through genetic studies and auditory research, which extend to the mountainous regions of the island.

At the 4th International Conference on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the president of the Council of State and Ministers explained that experimental laboratories are being set up not only to investigate the origin of many diseases but how to prevent them.

During a conversation with those attending this meeting at the International Conference Center, Fidel cited the Holguín Research center, where hereditary ataxia is being studied.

This eastern province has the highest prevalence of that disabling disease that generally occurs in the forties and whose cause is unknown, but over which concern is growing, given that the age when symptoms start to appear is reducing.

Foreign delegates expressed their solidarity with Cuba and praised the levels of care to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

The revolutionary leader referred to programs for deaf persons or those suffering from hyperacusis, now complemented by education for deaf and blind persons, which are showing excellent results.

Talking with Ida Hilda Escalona, president of the Cuban Physical Disability Association (ACLIFIM), Fidel praised the institution's work and retraining activities, as well as the labors of relatives.

More than 200 delegates from 11 countries in the Americas and Europe are attending the 4th International Conference on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which concludes this Friday.

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