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Cuba | Symposium: “Transforming care for our patients and communities: addressing determinants of health”

Travel for Change (TFC) had the pleasure of organizing and fulfilling the logistics for the “Transforming Care for our Patients and Communities: Addressing Determinants of Health” program. This annual medical education activity is hosted annually by The Dominican Medical Dental Association Symposium and convened this year in Havana, Cuba on October 17 – 21, 2018. 

The objective of this year’s symposium was to address the role of health determinants in the care of individual patients and communities, and to understand the impact of emphasizing positive factors and mitigating negative factors.

The academic symposium was be led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in collaboration with Montefiore Medical Center. The unique five-day medical symposium was an educational experience brimming with opportunities to discover the capital of Cuba through its everyday people, and medical specialists. While marveling at Havana’s majestic colonial architecture, vintage automobiles, and vibrant beachside, the participants learned first-hand the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the Cuban people.

The following is a synopsis of our 5-day trip to Havana.

Our journey began on October 17th as we traveled from New York to Cuba. Once in Havana, we boarded a luxury coach from which we enjoyed lovely panoramic views of Havana, including the coastline of El Malecón and La Plaza de la Revolución on our way to the Meliá Cohiba hotel, a high-rise hotel opened in 1994, located in the Vedado district of Havana, Cuba, just off the Malecón and next to the historic Hotel Habana Riviera. After a settling in and a few hours to refresh ourselves, we attended a special evening mass at the Catedral de San Cristóbal followed by a welcoming reception.

The next morning was the first day of the symposium started out with a delicious breakfast and then we moved on to a full day of academic panels and presentations. The inauguration of this year’s symposium was conducted by the Minister of Public Health of Cuba, Roberto Morales Ojeda and Dr. Ramón Tallaj, President of Corinthian IPA and President of SOMOS Community Care, greeted us with a warm welcome.

 The evening was free to enjoy on our own. 

After breakfast, the symposium continued with remarks by Dr. Ramón Tallaj followed by group conferences and Q&A sessions through midday ending with lunch and closing the symposium.

The afternoon was free to explore historic Havana and to make the most of this UNESCO World Heritage site on our own. The symposium’s participants meandered through the Plaza de Armas, the oldest square in the city, and the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, residence of the Spanish colonial governors. They had the opportunity to admire the Fountain of the Lions from the 19th century, and visit the Plaza Vieja and Calle Obispo, the latter, a busy pedestrian-only thoroughfare of shops, restaurants, and state art galleries. 

The evening found us enjoying dinner and entertainment at the Tropicana Club, a world-famous 1940s cabaret built in a state suburb surrounded by lush tropical gardens.

Saturday was spent exploring the magic of Cuba’s crystal blue coasts as we traveled to Varadero beach, a seaside resort with 20 kilometers of white sand beaches in the province of Matanzas, Cuba. 

After a glorious day on the coast, we returned to Havana to enjoy on our remaining few hours on this beautiful island.

Our visit to Havana was officially over on Sunday as we boarded ground transportation to the airport and returned to our country of origin. Adios Havana, for now.

You too can immerse yourself in Old Havana’s scintillating ambiance, ice-cream colored facades, revolutionary history, world-renowned cigar industry, and arts community. Contact us to create your very own trip to Havana, a city bursting with musicality and revolutionary history.

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