By Tengku Faezah Tengku Yusof
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 (Bernama) – Just what the doctor would have prescribed.
The pharmaceutical industries of Cuba and Malaysia will scale greater heights if the two countries ink an agreement by year-end, says Cuban Ambassador to Malaysia, Ibete Fernandez Hernandez.
She said Cuba viewed Malaysia as a significant hub among Southeast Asian countries to jointly produce and market affordable and quality vaccine through the pharmaceutical industry.
“There has already been talk between (pharmaceutical) companies from both countries on the possibility of establishing vaccine here.
“Cuba has the expertise and know-how while Malaysia has all the facilities needed to produce safe and quality vaccine.
“If we manage to ink a deal this year, we can possibly start producing (vaccine) next year,” she told a press conference at her residence here recently.
Hernandez noted that since 1975, Malaysia and Cuba enjoyed good bilateral relations and their main trade previously, was related to vaccine for Hepatitis B.
“But in 2016, we had to cease the trade because of United States (US) enforcing a blockade,” she said.
The Caribbean nation is well known for its medical advancement and it pioneered the world’s first lung cancer vaccine, Cimavax, which was launched in 2011.
Hernandez said that In 2017, Cuba reached the lowest infant mortality rate in its history, with four per 1,000 births and a life expectancy of 78.45.
An embargo imposed by the US against the Caribbean country which began in October 1960 under then-US President Dwight D. Eisenhower was broadened under President John F. Kennedy, where Cuba remained unable to trade freely with the US, use US dollar in international transaction and could not open a bank account in US currency in third countries.
“This policy continues to be the principal obstacle to the growth of the Cuban economy and full enjoyment of all the human rights of the people of Cuba, constituting a serious challenge to the implementation of Agenda 2030 and its sustainable development goals,’’ said Hernandez.
The embargo had also caused an economic loss of more than US$1 trillion to Cuba and some 11.2 million Cubans, she added.
US President Donald Trump’s adoption of the Presidential Memorandum entitled, ‘Strengthening the Policy of US towards Cuba’ in June last year renewed the intensification of the embargo, and represents a serious setback to bilateral relations with Cuba.
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