In Santiago, we found a pharmacist, who was also the vice director of the institute of pharmacology, Aurora Zuniga, and another important person, the pediatrician José Acosta, who were interested, so we proposed forming a group like ours in Italy. Back in Italy we created an international decentralized cooperation initiative through which we asked interested municipalities such as the City of Viareggio (Lucca) and the Region of Tuscany to donate funds. We raised something like 15 million lire, the equivalent of our current 7,500 or 8,000 euros, with which we bought the stock for 150 remedies, a distiller, an electric succussion machine, a bottle sterilizer, and the bottles themselves – but not the alcohol since in Cuba, at least that was abundant!
The idea was to provide training and a basic structure that would give these groups some prescriptive autonomy with the use of these remedies. We started in Santiago in February 1995 – and we went there blindly, having sent a letter and not having received a reply because faxing was too expensive for them. So we just showed up, found the person we had met originally, who found another person, and so on… and within a couple days we had 15 people.
This was 1995 and during that summer, other Cuban colleagues came on board. The group was called Jatropha curcas. By the time we went back to teach our third seminar the following January, just less than a year later, they had already made 22,000 prescriptions. These were mostly family doctors within the public sector and they were doing controlled studies to see if the remedies actually worked. So this seed we planted began to sprout. It was contagious because other provinces, all the way to Pinar del Río, needed medicines and started to use homeopathy as well. Jacques Imberechts was also involved and he continued to train Cuban practitioners until the late 90s but our work there lasted even beyond that.
Additionally, we had the support of an important figure in the Cuban political and scientific landscape, Concepcion Campa “Conchita”, director of the Findlay Institute, an important vaccine production center, who was later involved in the Homeopathic Immunisation Against Leptospirosis in Cuba initiative.
I know that your initial outreach with Cuba also took on another direction, in the field of veterinary homeopathy.
Yes. There was another wonderful experience in which I didn’t participate but that was spearheaded by my wife Mariella Di Stefano, a scientific journalist specializing in homeopathy, and Barbara Rigamonti, a veterinary homeopath. They asked themselves: “If they don’t have medicines for people, what could they possibly have for animals?” They were right, and they decided to do something about it. There was a 24-hour veterinary clinic that didn’t have any medications. It was the Clinica veterinaria de urgencia della Facultad de de Medicina Veterinaria in La Habana Centro. That’s where a new branch of this work would unfold.
We trained its veterinarians in the use of homeopathy and, thanks to the support of the clinic director, Dr. Achon, they went forward almost exclusively with the use of homeopathic remedies. It was a great experience because we didn’t think we could practice homeopathy on animals in Cuba – or, well, we knew it could be done but we never imagined this outcome.
For me, this experience was incredibly useful. It suggested to me that perhaps it was possible to believe in an institutional integration of homeopathy and that we could try to extend our efforts to the whole Italian population back home, rather than to the few “privileged” people who had been our patients until then. We realized we might be ready to bring homeopathy into the broader arena of public healthcare.
[To be continued in the next issue of Homeopathy for Everyone]