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Heart to Heart International will head to Cuba soon to deliver medical
supplies
As soon as the Cuban government gives its approval, Heart to Heart
International will deliver catheters, syringes, rubber gloves, diapers,
thermometers, antibiotics and more to a pediatric hospital in need.
BY ERIC ADLER
eadler@kcstar.com

The United States government took a major step forward in its mission to
normalize relations with Cuba when on Friday it opened the first U.S.
Embassy in the capital city of Havana since 1961.

Now a medical mission group in Lenexa is preparing for a Cuba trip of
its own.

Heart to Heart International, a nonprofit that collects medical supplies
for disaster relief and other medical relief around the world, has
collected enough basic medical supplies to fill a 40-foot-long container.

As soon as the Cuban government gives its approval, which could be as
early as September or October, a team of workers from the group will
travel to Florida and board a ship to Cuba to personally deliver
supplies that include catheters, syringes, rubber gloves, diapers,
thermometers and antibiotics to a pediatric hospital that is in
desperate need.

Materials will be delivered to Hospital Pediátrico William Soler in
Havana, where, according to Heart to Heart CEO Jim Mitchum, physicians
are sometimes forced to improvise.

“Some of their doctors are using plastic bags on their hands instead of
gloves,” said Mitchum, who traveled to Cuba in recent months to meet
with medical authorities.

Cuban physicians, he noted, have long been held in high esteem.

“It is an interesting contrast,” Mitchum said. “Cuba is a major medical
educator for the entire South American and Central American set of
countries. Their medical education is perceived in Latin America as the
best.

“When we went to Liberia to fight Ebola, a Cuban doctor came in to treat
patients there in Monrovia. That doesn’t mean they always have the money
or the supplies necessary to do what they know how to do.”

Heart to Heart’s relationship with Cuban authorities was created over
the last few years through the efforts of Heart to Heart founder Gary
Morsch, a physician who traveled to Cuba in 2013 with the Nazarene Church.

President Barack Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba announced in
December that the U.S. and Cuba would restore full diplomatic ties. But
the Obama administration since 2009 has been reducing restrictions on
U.S. citizens’ dealings with Cuba, including allowing greater travel for
educational, religious and other reasons.

The Nazarene Church has had a presence in Cuba since 1902.

“We’re rapidly growing,” said Robert Prescott, who works from Annapolis,
Md., as the church’s coordinator of partnerships for the Mesoamerica region.

Cuba is home to 9,000 Nazarene members in 119 churches.

Prescott said that twice each month, Nazarene volunteers and others
travel to Cuba to help maintain the denomination’s congregations and
ministries.

“Cuba has a great shortage of medicine,” Prescott said. “Even people
traveling to Cuba, they encourage you to bring medicines with you
because they have such a shortage.”

Mitchum said Heart to Heart is working with other nonprofits to bring in
supplies such as hospital beds.

“We have the container just about ready to go,” said Mitchum, who is
waiting on Cuban authorization. “And we’re not going to just ship it and
forget. We’re going to see it all the way through to the hospital.”

Source: Heart to Heart International will head to Cuba soon to deliver
medical supplies | The Kansas City Star –
http://www.kansascity.com/news/article31194578.html

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