As diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba are  being opened for the first time in more than 50 years, Matter is poised to be among the first bring updated medical equipment to Cuban hospitals. Matter has a fifteen year history of shipping medical equipment and supplies to developing hospitals and clinics around the world. This month, Matter is partnering with Pittsburgh-based Global Links, a nonprofit with 20+ years of experience in Cuba, to provide supplies and equipment to a medical school in Havana.

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The Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina in Havana is one of the first recipients of Matter-procured supplies in Cuba.

Under the US Embargo, Cuba has not been able to purchase products, merchandise, machinery, or equipment which contains more than 10% North American components. This has made several medicines, materials and supplies inaccessible to the Cuban market. Although the country allocates 8.6% of its GDP to health care, Cuba is not able to keep up with the demands of medical equipment, supplies, and medicines needed to deliver optimal health care to more than 11 million of Cubans.

Minnesota 3rd District Congressman Erik Paulsen supports Matter’s efforts to expand access to health care in Cuba. “The work that groups like Matter and Global Links will be doing show why improving relations with Cuba is in the best interest of both the United States and the Cuban people,” said Paulsen. “Empowering Cuban citizens through access to healthcare, education, and trade means placing the future of the country firmly in their hands. This collaboration of nonprofits will be an important step in growing the relationship between Minnesota and Cuba.”

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Many of the supplies being sent to Cuba include training equipment for medical students.

The first shipment from the United States to Cuba is scheduled for September and will contain training and medical items sourced by Matter, many of which will be sent to the Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina in Havana. It will include items such as an IV training arm (currently there is only one in the entire medical school), adult and infant CPR dolls, a heart model, a lung model, an anatomy mannequin, spirometers and lab microscopes.

Matter and the Hispanic community in the Twin Cities are raising awareness and resources for future shipments, including another container which will include items such as hospital beds and laboratory equipment for hospitals in Santiago de Cuba before the end of the year.