Cuba seeks help to buy swine flu vaccine

October 6th, 2009 - 1:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Havana, Oct 6 (EFE) Cuba has asked the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization for help in acquiring a new vaccine against swine flu, a minister said.
Luis Estruch, deputy health minister for hygiene, epidemiology and microbiology, said that the vaccine is “highly effective” but also “very expensive”, in an interview published by the Communist Party daily Granma Monday.

In another recent statement, he said that Cuba will concentrate on preventing contagion because each dose of the vaccine costs between $10 and $20.

Estruch said that up to last weekend a total of 468 cases had been diagnosed on the island, including more than 150 children and “several dozen” pregnant women. No deaths have been reported.

The official recalled that the biggest problem is that “among the population there is not sufficient understanding” of the mortal danger of this flu, adding that people should go to the doctor immediately at the first symptoms of pulmonary infection.

Health Minister Jose Ramon Balaguer spoke of the need to “work more efficiently in assistance centers given the panic created by the flu virus”, and that Cuba has managed to “control the pandemic” without it reaching “the magnitude it has in other countries”.

Worldwide, more than 343,000 people have been infected with the virus and 4,100 have died, the US Centre for Disease Control said Monday.

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