On World Health Day, April 7, in Matanzas, blood pressure monitoring was conducted in neighborhoods across the city to detect cases of this Photo: Nuria Barbosa

Medical attention for tourists and international visitors in Cuba is guaranteed in the country's major destinations, including Trinidad and Varadero, according to public health leaders in the provinces of Matanzas and Sancti Spíritus, who spoke with Granma International.

Juan Luis Marcelo Pentón, director of Public Health in Sancti Spíritus, discussed the municipality of Trinidad, the central region's most popular destination, which has an international clinic, as well as a full service hospital for the population, where any visiting patient can also receive treatment if necessary.

Both are equipped with the latest technology and can conduct any kind of laboratory test needed to quickly diagnose a problem and prescribe treatment.Dr. Pentón, an internal medicine specialist, explained that hotels have a nurse on duty 24 hours a day, and some a doctor as well, to ensure a healthy, hygienic environment. Visitors staying at private B&Bs can receive attention at neighborhood clinics if they should become ill.

Magalys Chaviano Moreno, provincial director of Public Health in Matanzas, emphasized mosquito control programs in Varadero, the country's most popular beach resort. Photo: Nuria Barbosa

The doctor added, "For cases that cannot be resolved at the municipal level, patients are transported, under specialized supervision, to the Camilo Cienfuegos provincial hospital, where there are wards fully equipped to treat specific illnesses. The province has created the conditions to ensure quality medical attention for the population and foreign vacationers who visit us.

"The province has 448 neighborhood family doctor offices attached to 23 polyclinics, plus four general hospitals, and other specialized centers. Additionally, at-risk pregnant women can be admitted to five maternity homes with 240 beds.

Juan Luis Marcelo Pentón, director of Public Health in the province of Sancti Spíritus, noted that quality medical attention for tourists is guaranteed in Trinidad, the region's most important tourist destination. Photo: Nuria Barbosa

Older adults are served at eight rest homes and nine neighborhood day centers."With these facilities, Sancti Spíritus guarantees medical consultations for the population, and maintains health indicators close to the national average, clearly reflecting the quality of life of Cubans," Dr. Pentón stated, citing the province's 2016 infant mortality rate of 3.4 for every 1,000 live births.He added that the province's health institutions are able to provide a variety of surgeries, and wait times have been practically eliminated.

National treatment protocols have been implemented to increase long term survival rates of patients facing cancer, cardiac pathologies, head injuries, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, and other ailments, he said, noting, "We have programs within our hospitals to provide specialized and differentiated follow-up care to those who need it."Dr. Pentón likewise described the public health system's project to provide consultations with 20 traveling specialists in remote, difficult to access communities.

Vacationers in Trinidad have ready access to medical care. Photo: Vicente Brito

The province is implementing plans to repair and renovate its health care facilities, to which the government has allocated more than 20 million pesos annually. Included are architectural remodeling, the installation of updated technology, new bathroom fixtures, and more comfortable facilities for workers and patients.For its part, the western province of Matanzas is working on the control of disease-bearing vectors - mosquitoes which spread Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya.

An increase in infestations is common during the summer months, given high temperatures and heavy rainfall, according toDr. Magalys Chaviano Moreno, director of Public Health in the province.She emphasized a program established in the beach resort town of Varadero to mitigate the propagation of arboviruses, which includes monitoring at airports and landing sites; frequent fumigation of homes and institutions; and treatment of potential vector breeding sites.Dr. Chaviano reported that statistics in the province reveal the main cause of death as heart disease associated with high blood pressure, followed by malignant tumors.

She noted that, in this regard, research is being conducted in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization, and emphasis is being placed on preventative campaigns promoting healthy diets and regular physical exercise, explaining, "We initiated a research project at a neighborhood polyclinic in Matanzas and believe that the results will help various countries on the continent, specifically in the control of high blood pressure.

"In this scientific investigation, we integrated the medical protocols and the participation of community residents, linked to the pharmacy and the hospital.

We will gradually extend this experience to the province's 28 polyclinics."At this time, we are offering training on the issue to personnel working in family doctor offices.

Our goal is to articulate all sectors of the local government, and the population's participation, in the control of the risk factors that cause cardio-pathologies in Matanzas."Similar work is being conducted in the prevention and treatment of cancer, principally in early detection and diagnosis, which can lower the mortality rate of these patients.

Key to this effort is the promotion of healthy lifestyles to prevent chronic diseases that complicate the treatment of cancer, and increase quality of life.Dr. Chaviano reported that the province is immersed in a process of needed change, as is the rest of the country, focused on primary care, so that the population can resolve most health issues at family doctor offices, while hospitals provide specialized services, to more efficiently use human and material resources.

The doctor noted that good health begins within the family, and emphasized the importance of a socially functional, sanitary home environment, which impacts quality of life and life expectancy, stating, "In Matanzas, we promote self-care within the population."