1998 NCC News Archives

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NCC/CWS Delivers Medical Supplies to Cuba July 31
In Its First Direct Flight Since Restriction Was Lifted

NEW YORK, July 31, 1998 ---- National Council of Churches (NCC) medical supplies and blankets were flown to Havana, Cuba, today on the NCC’s first direct flight in over two years.

"After long pressing for the restriction on direct flights to Cuba to be lifted for humanitarian supplies, we are grateful that we can avoid the extra expense and time to get these supplies to the people where they are needed," said the Rev. Dr. Joan Campbell, NCC General Secretary. President Clinton lifted the restriction on direct flights of humanitarian aid this spring after pressure mounted following the Pope’s January visit to Cuba.

Over the past six years, the NCC – through its Church World Service ministry – has sent 42 shipments of food, medicines, medical equipment, school supplies and other goods to Cuba totaling nearly 300 tons with a market value of more than $10 million. CWS works with its partner, the Cuban Council of Churches, to target its assistance to the most vulnerable members of Cuban society – women, children and the elderly.

Today’s shipment, valued at $143,200, includes 17 pallets and 10 cartons of hospital supplies, a gift from the Ohio State University Medical Center; 2,000 health kits and 5,000 lightweight blankets.

The medical supplies, which include splints, bandages, syringes and other disposables, will go to two emergency clinics in Havana which the NCC is targeting to improve their capacity for care.

In June, the NCC shipped 3,000 pounds of medical equipment donated to Church World Service by Rotary District #5240 in Southern California, working with Rotary International and in collaboration with Direct Relief International, Santa Barbara, Calif.

"The Cuban Council of Churches requested this equipment during our December visit," explained the Rev. Oscar Bolioli, NCC/CWS Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. "Concentrating on specific clinics is a way to make a concrete difference."

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