Cuban medical authorities said on Tuesday a 50-year trade embargo imposed by the United States has severely undermined the country's healthcare system.
Cuban hospitals suffer restrictions in acquiring imported medical consumables and medicine, advanced medical technology and latest scientific information, officials said.
The public Institute of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery, where thousands of people receive free medical care every year from international specialists, is financially strained by the embargo.
"We must find alternatives that sometimes include purchasing from distant markets, buying from third parties, which means higher prices for these products," said Director of the institute Dr. Lorenzo Llerena.
He added some equipments were simply unattainable, "because they are manufactured in the United States."
The embargo has caused Cuba a loss of more than 200 million dollars in the medical sector alone by 2011, representing a significant impact on the tiny Caribbean nation, according to official figures.
John Rhodes, a patient, told Xinhua that Cuba had made a great effort for the benefit of all its citizens.
"It provides us free medicine across the country, which is highly expensive around the world," he said, adding "due to the U.S. embargo, sometimes we do not have all the raw materials and tools to solve certain problems immediately."
Despite the U.S. policy, the Cuban healthcare system is considered as one of the best. Cuba has trained doctors for more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
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