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May 12, 2006

Cuba to acquire new laboratories for genetic medicine

From: Granma International - La Habana,Cuba - May 12, 2006

CUBA is to acquire 12 new laboratories for genetic population studies, announced Doctor Beatriz Marcheco, director of the National Center for Genetic Medicine, during the TV and radio "Roundtable" program attended by President Fidel Castro.

Doctor Marcheco explained that these facilities will expand the center’s ability to investigate Downs Syndrome and mental retardation in the early stages of pregnancy.

Cuba already has an equal number of laboratories for cytogenetics, which have supported the program of diagnostics, management and prevention of those pathologies and defects transmitted from parents to children.

During the "Roundtable" discussion, prominent individuals in Cuban medicine participating in the 1st Congress of Community Genetics meeting in Havana showed the persistent efforts by geneticists who are working for better quality of life for the people.

The examples abound for demosntrating the value of the island’s medical system, which is capable of carrying out unprecedented feats, such as cochlear implants for 53 children (35 deaf and 18 deaf-mute), in spite of the fact that each operation costs about $50,000.

Doctor Odalis Batista, of Ciénaga de Zapata, and Doctor Juan Miguel Barrero, of Holguín, described as very positive the studies carried out by the Cuban state with the goal of better treatment for people with those severe limitations.

That analysis throughout the island in 2003 made it possible to determine that factors such as alcoholism, kinship, and environmental problems influence on children’s chromosomal disparities, to the extent of being born with severe disorders.

Antonio Paz, one of the Cuban surgeons to have performed the cochlear implants, noted the role of the multidisciplinary group that is participating in those operations to improve the conditions of these children, and emphasized that Cuba is an advanced position in that discipline worldwide.

More than 140 years after Austrian Juan Gregorio Mendel discovered the mysteries of genetics, the Cuban Revolution has carried out one of its most noble projects, and achieved results as incredible as giving hearing to the deaf and eyes to the blind. (AIN)

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