Medical care does not meet U.S. standards. While medical professionals are generally competent, many health facilities face shortages of medical supplies and bed space. Many medications are unavailable so travelers to Cuba should bring with them any prescribed medicine in its original container and in amounts commensurate with personal use. A copy of the prescription and a letter from the prescribing physician explaining the need for prescription drugs facilitates their entry into the country.
The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas. Some private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations. Given the lack of direct, commercial air links between the U.S. and Cuba, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage has proved extremely useful to travelers in the past.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
Other Health Information
A variety of tropical maladies, notably viral meningitis and dengue fever, occasionally break out around Cuba, including urban areas like Havana. Exposure to disease vectors is not limited to remote and less-sanitary areas, and some urban neighborhoods are subject to heavy public insecticide spraying.
Hepatitis A is common, particularly in the summer months, and immunoglobulin is not readily available.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC site.
The United States Interests Section in Havana, Cuba informs U.S. residents and travelers in Cuba of an existence of Dengue Fever in Havana and the surrounding areas.
Dengue Fever is not contagious. Dengue Fever is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito whose peak feeding/biting time is during the first few hours of daylight and then again late in the afternoon.
The United States Interests Section in Havana, Cuba urges all U.S. residents and travelers to read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information on Dengue Fever and to take appropriate precautions.