Health and Safety of Cuba - The Traveller


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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Health and Safety of Cuba

Health insurance

Since 1 May 2010, it is mandatory for travelers to take out insurance to cover possible medical expenses. If you have not taken out insurance before you leave, you'll have to do upon arrival in Cuba. A supporting document will be required.

The Cuban health system

Public health is one of the great achievements of Cuban socialism, accessible and completely free. And the results are admired by many specialists. It's crazy the number of hospitals found in this country!

There is a good basic pharmaceutical industry given the means, and doctors are really competent. Sometimes only problem: the lack of medicines. However, if something goes wrong, take courage against some convertible pesos, there will always be what it takes to rescue you.

Care is paid for tourists, nothing wrong with that. They are generally reimbursed by Social Security in France. Pharmacies (farmacias) are numerous but often empty. There are in major cities of pharmacies called "international", better stocked. Take your medications anyway, a good insect repellents and protective creams against the sun. In fact, there are very little precise figures on the health status of Cuba.

Vaccines and diseases

Cuba is undoubtedly one of the Caribbean region the healthiest after the French Antilles. No vaccinations are required. However, we can recommend some conventional vaccines for all travelers from the northern hemisphere.

- Vaccines "universal", recommended for Europe, must be current: tetanus, polio, diphtheria, hepatitis B and pertussis.
- It would be unreasonable to go to Cuba without being protected against typhoid and hepatitis A.
- Yellow fever has been eradicated.

Finally, as elsewhere in the Caribbean, avoid skin contact with the sand on beaches frequented by dogs: risk for larva migrans, not very serious but very annoying and itchy.

Mosquitoes, jenenes, the sun ... and coconut

We must protect themselves from mosquitoes which are abundant and aggressive, especially in summer. In addition, they can transmit serious diseases such as dengue.
- Basic tips: make it a habit to wear protective clothes for hours and sensitive periods. On areas of skin remained discoveries, apply mosquito repellent Insect Ecran kind.

Other pests to the backpacker amateur sunbathing, the jejenes (sand flies), which sometimes attack on some beaches. This is the case at Ancon (near Trinidad) and María la Gorda particular. These are tiny insects, but particularly aggressive, especially before the sun does not heat and when it begins to descend. Their bites can cause severe itching for several weeks for delicate skin. And the problem is that we do not feel them immediately.

The sun is a friend whose beware: it shakes in the tropics, even through clouds. Coat of barrier cream you when you arrive and do not forget to cover your head!

Another thing that can possibly enter: coconuts. On the beaches, do not you put in the shade of coconut or shake them before!


In recent years, government policy has greatly eased the sick. According to Cuban authorities, only 0.07% of the population is infected with HIV ... We are not obliged to believe them. Because with the explosion of tourism and prostitution, the risks are inevitably become very serious. We suggest that you bring condoms "European" because condones locally manufactured are of poor quality ...

Food hygiene

The water hygiene and food would be officially perfect. Emit a reasonable suspicion, and, for safety reasons:

- Do not eat fruits and vegetables unless they can be peeled if they were properly washed or, of course, if they are cooked;
- Require that meats are cooked well and served hot;
- No problem for fish consumed in restaurants, but do not eat, without proper authorization, the possible product of its fishing: risk of poisoning (ciguatera), as throughout the Caribbean;
- Without moderation delicious Cuban lobsters and other crustaceans, but refrain from eating shellfish (unless they are caught near the coast);
- Milk and milk products are allowed in the case of industrial products;
- If tap water is perhaps not dangerous, it is not recommended anyway. As in all Latin American countries, it is better really mineral water in sealed bottles.


For many years, the island has seen virtually no problems with flights. You feel safe almost anywhere globally. However, with the arrival of mass tourism, things began to change slightly.
Your currency relevant to new generations, starting with jineteros, smaller dealers that specialize in tourist harassment. They occur mainly in tourist sites and around the main squares in cities. Avoid walking alone (e) at night in neighborhoods like Centro Habana.

However, it is very rare. In addition, the police are very present and you can count on his support. However, it is very difficult to get a double or a certificate in case of complaint to the police. What complicates the procedures with your insurance ...

- Homestay: make sure the safety of the house, check the status of the room doors before doing business. Take care to hide his money in the bag and close it with a padlock. There is virtually no thefts in casas particulares.
- At the hotel: in many hotels of medium and high category, there are lockers at the reception or small digital lock boxes in the rooms. Beware though, some hotels poorly maintained, they are there but no longer work!
- On the street: no ostentatious show off, and when you go for a walk, take only the money you need and (preferably) a copy of your passport.
- In shops and restaurants always make clear the price before consuming a good or service (taxi without a meter, for example). Ask for receipts (comprobantes) and check. It is better also always check the additions and that makes you money.
- The bicycle thefts are common, if you intend to hire one, be sure to take a lock! Ditto for your car: Always close doors and windows, remove the front of your car radio and do not leave unattended at night.

However, no paranoid: these precautions, usually only flights may occur, attacks are extremely rare. And we have not observed problems in large cities (Havana and Santiago).


Consumption and, worse, drug possession are strictly prohibited and punishable by lengthy prison sentences. Despite this, the traffic seems to have intensified with tourism. The authority has launched a hunt for drugs intensive, and it is to his credit.

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