MSF project in Cuba shuts down

After a presence of four years, MSF has closed its remaining project in Cuba.

From the beginning, MSF concentrated on information and prevention in the areas of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The project, which included the development of an information centre for HIV/AIDS, has since been transferred to the Cuban Ministry of Health and is currently sponsored by UNAIDS.

When MSF started their action, the Cuban Government accepted the presence of a foreign NGO (MSF) which was able to give advice on the growing HIV/AIDS problem. The team began in 1997 with an information centre in the capital, Havana.

The centre now co-ordinates the various programmes aimed at information regarding and prevention of HIV/AIDS, with special attention for Cuban risk groups.

One remarkable initiative for Cuban society was the setting up of a help and information line where Cubans could obtain information anonymously.

During the past few months, MSF, working in collaboration with the Ministry, developed the 'Carrito por la vida' (Caravan of life) - a gaily painted, genuine Dutch caravan with which the MSF team, along with Cuban health promoters, travelled through Havana and the provincial towns.

The emphasis was placed on distributing information and condoms for risk groups in order to raise the awareness of HIV, AIDS and STDs. There was enormous enthusiasm from team members, who were often on the road day and night on a voluntary basis.

The tour through Cuba can be considered as a successful conclusion to a successful MSF project.