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2.16.2016

Anesthesiology Team Trains Cuban Physicians in Historic Medical Education Mission to Havana

A team of anesthesiologists from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine recently completed an historic medical education mission to Havana, training 21 members of the Cuban Society of Anesthesiologists on acute pain management. The January 29-30 conference, “2016 Acute Pain Workshop Cuba,” focused on ultrasound guidance, multimodal analgesia and evidence-based practice.

“This was the first Regional Anesthesia and Acute Pain medical conference conducted by U.S. physicians in Cuba since the 1959 revolution,” said Andres Missair, M.D., associate professor of clinical anesthesiology and Associate Director of the Fellowship in Regional Anesthesia and Acute Pain. Missair led the groundbreaking trip to Havana, which was funded by volunteer faculty and private donations.

“This international Miller School initiative supports the University of Miami’s mission of leadership in education, research and service throughout the hemisphere,” said David Lubarsky, M.D., M.B.A., Emanuel M. Papper Professor and Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology.

Humberto Saínz Cabrera, M.D., President of the Cuban Society of Anesthesiologists, selected the 21 attending physicians, including representatives from all 15 provinces. Noting that Cuba has approximately 72,000 physicians for its 11.25 million residents, Missair said, “While Cuba has an extensive health care system, its doctors do not have access to ultrasonography technology, a versatile imaging tool in wide use by U.S. anesthesiologists.”

The two-day conference was held in the UNICEF office of the United Nations in Havana, which also provided the computers and projectors for the lectures. SonoSite, a leading manufacturer of portable ultrasonic equipment, brought four ultrasound systems to the conference, which included scanning sessions using live models. After the conference, SonoSite donated a portable system to the Juan Manuel Marquez pediatric hospital in Havana.

“We organized a holistic program that addressed the basics of ultrasound scanning and using nerve blocks for anesthesia, as well as how to set up an acute pain service,” said Missair. “Our goal was to develop a program that would be sustainable in Cuba after the conference.”

The faculty for the trip included Oscar A. deLeon-Casasola, M.D., professor and Senior Vice Chair of Anesthesiology at the University of Buffalo, and President of the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, Missair and two additional Miller School faculty members — Alexandru Visan, M.D., assistant professor of clinical anesthesiology, and Brian Osman, M.D., assistant professor of clinical anesthesiology. Gregg Kowalczyk, SonoSite’s Florida regional sales manager, provided technical support for the conference.

Missair said the conference was so well received that Saínz Cabrera and Cuba’s Vice Minister for Public Health, Jose Perez Vives, M.D., invited the Miller School anesthesiologists to return next year for a similar program.

“We are beginning to plan for another acute pain program in February 2017, and may also organize a chronic pain program in Havana later this year,” he said. “We hope to bring several anesthesiology residents next year, along with our faculty, and continue this important international service initiative.”

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