Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) clinic representatives touring Cuba during early December included a clinic director, clinic volunteers, a retired physician, a medical student, two optometrists, a translator, and others along with a VIM national office board member. The purpose of the seven-day tour was to introduce VIM travelers to the Cuban health care system as part of an educational, people-to-people delegation organized by Intercultural Travel Group for VIM.
Tour activities included a lecture by a professor of general surgery who gave an overview of the Cuban health care system, another by a former Cuban diplomat and expert on U.S. – Cuban relations, discussion with a noted journalist and author (the longest-serving foreign correspondent in Cuba), a community health care tour including visits to a local pharmacy, a nursing home and a community health center, visits to the Latin American Medical School, a local health clinic, a children’s health daycare center among other activities.
The VIM tourists also enjoyed several lunches and dinners at various paladars (private restaurants), a private performance in the home of renowned singer, guitarist, and songwriter, Frank Delgado, walking tours of Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad, a private meeting with artists, architects, and writers, a special performance at a women-led dance company and school for local youth, a lecture by an expert in the cigar industry, and an evening at the world-renown Buena Vista Social Club. The travelers also spent two nights in Trinidad in the “casas” of local citizens.
All-in-all, the 2017 VIM Tour was an excellent opportunity to connect with fellow VIM representatives and experience Cuban culture. A portion of the proceeds from the 2017 tour will be used to support the 2018 Volunteers in Medicine National Conference to be held in Alexandria, Virginia on May 3-5.