243723 Cuba's vaccination program: Keeping communities healthy

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 2:48 PM

Elizabeth Bancroft, MD, SM , Acute Communicable Disease Control Program, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Kristopher P. Fennie, MPH, PhD , School of Nursing, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Colleen Harris, MSN, MBA, RN-BC, CCM , College of Nursing, The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, TX
Pamela Mahan, DSN, RN , Department of Nursing, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, GA
Sheila Palevsky, MD MPH , New York, NY
Background: Cuba has independently developed a national health system that relies on primary care and prevention. In response to an ongoing epidemic of meningococcal B disease in the 1980s, Cuba instituted a vaccine research and development program.

Methods: In November, 2010, a subset of the official APHA delegation to Cuba visited the Finlay Institute (FI), a government funded biotech organization dedicated to vaccine research and production for Cuba and to respond to vaccine needs around the world. The purpose of this visit was to learn how Cuba has successfully developed and produced vaccines that have led to the control of several endemic diseases. Delegation officials also met with officials from the Ministry of Public Health.

Results: The Cuban vaccine program and schedule differs from the US vaccination schedule, and reported compliance with the Cuban schedule surpasses that of the US with virtual universal immunization of all infants through the community-based national health system. Vaccine delay and refusal were reported as virtually unknown. In addition to childhood vaccines, the FI has developed vaccines against pathogens (meningococcal B and leptospirosis) that are currently unavailable in the United States. The vaccines developed and produced by the FI meet international standards and have been successfully used in countries worldwide.

Conclusions: The Cuban approach to vaccine research, development, and production meets international standards in a country with limited financial resources. The United States may benefit from examining Cuba's national approach to vaccine development, in evaluating and improving its own approach.

Learning Areas:
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the community approach to vaccination in Cuba. 2. Compare the differences in the Cuban versus US vaccination schedule. 3. Identify elements of the Cuban Vaccination Program that may have implications for US vaccination policy.

Keywords: Immunizations, International Public Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I attended the APHA Special Delegation to Cuba with my fellow co-authors. My co-authors and I decided that I would upload the abstract information into the Abstract Submission form. I am a Public Health professional and nurse educator interested in public health systems/developing countries.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.