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Cuba: Cubans, amid medicine scarcity, turn to herbal remedies and bartering

Dayana Rodriguez says her son is overwhelmed with scabies but she has not been able to find any of the treatments prescribed by their doctor at the poorly-stocked pharmacies in Havana so she is now turning to a herbal remedy instead.

Even as Cuba is leading the race to become the first country in Latin America to develop its own COVID-19 vaccine, the country is suffering acute shortages of basic medicines amid its worst economic crisis in decades.

“There aren’t any of the ones they prescribed him, Benzyl benzoate, or the other one for itching too that used to be in all the pharmacies,” said Rodriguez, buying medicinal plants at a shop on a commercial boulevard in Central Havana.

Nine families in Havana told Reuters they were struggling to treat outbreaks of scabies, a highly infectious yet preventable skin disease, due to medicine shortages.

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