Saturday, December 14, 2013

In ten years ...

It was a day, ten years ago this week, that I will forever remember.

December 13, 2003 was the day Saddam Hussein was "smoked out of his hole" and I visited my first spay/neuter campaña in Cuba.

I would have though that at least one of the events would have received a mention in the media yesterday.

This campaña was held in a private house with surgery done on a kitchen table. Thirty plus dogs were sterilized by a highly skilled veterinarian. A team of volunteers and "protectoras" would hold these weekend events because there were neither the supplies nor the willingness to do this in a government run clinic.

So, what has changed in ten years?
The USA still has a unhealthy paranoia of the outside world. Veterinary clinics in Cuba still do not have supplies to carry out emergency surgery on small animals-- let alone elective surgery like spay/neuters.
One of these constants should be easier to remedy that the other.

The Spanky Project has forged relationships and signed agreements which allow us to work with and in government veterinary clinics. This has allowed humane population control to go from the kitchen table to the surgical suite.

Recently, it seems that the care of small animals in Havana has been "flashbacked" to 2003.
And, unfortunately, today's "private" veterinarian is not always as skilled as the one I met in 2003.

The Spanky Project had to cancel two long planned trips to Havana. The first, in October, would have seen the official hand over of two anaesthesia machines to the University of Havana Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. A number of sterilization campañas were to be held, also.
The second, in December, was to be a continuation of the highly successful TNR for cats program launched in October 2012.
These trips were canceled because the Institute of Veterinary Medicine (IMV) in Cuba would not approve our anaesthesias and other pharmaceuticals for entry into Cuba.
Many of these supplies had been approved in the past.
The IMV now refers to a "Registro de Medicamentos", listing the only drugs that are permitted to enter Cuba for veterinary use. The bulk of the approved pharmaceuticals serve large animals. Few, if any, apply to small animals-- primarily cats and dogs.

The present rules of the "Registro de Medicamentos" require the manufacturing company to make the application and provide data as to use and safety of a drug they wish to have available for use in Cuba.
I ask you, what manufacturer would want to go through the effort to have their products registered in Cuba when there is no profit to be made?

We have sent our comments on the "Registro" to the IMV for consideration. We have also sent suggestions as to how a solution could be found to permit entry under special circumstances.
Suggestions such as the drugs we require would be used in designated locations only.
Used under strict reporting guidelines as to application and reporting of any negative effects or outcomes. 

At present, the clinics in Havana do not have anaesthetics. People are seeking out "private" veterinarians for treatment of their animals. These "private" veterinarian's access to anaesthetic would be less than legal.
Some of the "private" veterinarians are not qualified to call themselves veterinarians.

We have an excellent relationship with the Clinca Veterinaria Carlos III in Havana. This was the location of our mass TNR where 380+ cats were sterilized in one five days.
They have had cases where people bring in their pets that were operated on by a "private" veterinarian because of infections or other complications.
The situation in Havana, and likely other areas of Cuba, is critical from a small animal care perspective.

We want to work with the IMV to help Cubans help their animals.
The Spanky Project has reached out to the IMV... we are awaiting a response. We have over $9000.00 worth of supplies purchased packed and you have the paperwork for approval.
We are packed and ready to go. Just give us the word!!

What has changed in ten years? If one looks at the big picture ... not much.
There have been victories along the way but the struggle continues.
Why is it so hard to try to do good?

"Seamos realistas y hagamos lo imposible" - Ernesto Che Guevara
(Let's be realists and do the impossible) 

Waiting for a miracle!