By Safie M. González
HAVANA TIMES – Changes, economic reforms, shortages, SHORTAGES, COVID-19… these words have taken over our conversations for a while now. Some are spoken more than others, but I believe that every Cuban utters some of these, if not all of them, almost every day.
Medicine is one thing that can’t be found anywhere, for a while now. Going to a drugstore and getting medicine is a titanic task.
When supplies come in, word begins to spread like wildfire. The following day, people go to take their place in line at 5 AM or even earlier, especially those aged over 60. These people generally suffer from some chronic illness, as well as high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, asthma, to name a few.
How it affects me personally
I’ve suffered serious allergies ever since I was a little girl. I have spent my whole life taking antihistamines, even allergy shots. I had my last asthma attack when I was a teenager, but my allergies are quite severe, to the point that I can spend entire days sneezing.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to buy my pills for months now, because every time I or a member of my family goes to the drugstore to buy them and other pills my mother also needs, they run out before our turn or they just “don’t come in.”
The last time I was able to buy these pills was thanks to a neighbor’s errand boy who went early in the morning and lined up for us. We paid him a little extra cash and were able to get our respective pills.
I’ve been suffering from lumbago for a month now, but I haven’t been able to buy any anti-inflammatories or painkillers. I managed to get a few, thanks to the solidarity of a few friends who bought them above the selling price.
My paternal grandfather has arrhythmia and is never able to follow his medical treatment properly because his medicine doesn’t always “come into the drugstore”.
There’s a long list of people who need them and are unable to take them. There’s nothing worse than having a health problem or pain and not having anything to take to relieve the pain or prevent a severe crisis that could result in death.
This isn’t a new situation. We’ve been suffering shortages at Cuban drugstores for a long time now, and the crisis has just come along to aggravate this situation, as well as many others. It’s sad to see such old people waiting in line for hours on end, to buy their medicine, which might not even be in stock.
Isn’t there a census with the number of sick people who suffer from chronic illness? If we are a country that exports medicines, how is it possible that we don’t even have enough to meet the needs of those living here?