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Cuba, Si! ... In May, With AMHCA
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Cuba, Si! ... In May, With AMHCA


It’s the most populous island nation in the Caribbean, but not one that’s routinely on the ports of call of the cruise ships that ply the Caribbean waters. You can take advantage of a rare opportunity for U.S. citizens to visit Cuba in May, along with fellow AMHCA members, and participate in an exclusive, six-day professional research program. 

AMHCA, in conjunction with Professionals Abroad, a division of Academic Travel Abroad, is assembling a delegation of mental health counselors to visit Cuba to study mental health services, both in community and institutional settings. AMHCA’s delegation will leave Miami on May 22, 2011, for Havana, and return on May 27.
Although the healthcare system in Cuba is internationally recognized as a leader in Latin America, its provision of mental health services does not share this same recognition. Our delegation will study the services available through the primary healthcare/community-based structure and will delve into the rationale behind this obvious hole in the overall Cuban healthcare system.

Our Itinerary
AMHCA’s delegation will visit universities, community outpatient programs, and inpatient facilities, meeting with educators and practitioners to address topics of interest to delegation members.

AMHCA President Tom Ferro, LCPC, who is leading AMHCA’s delegation, has outlined the preliminary topics of discussion. Please note that this list will be expanded and refined once the interests and backgrounds of the delegation members are known.

  • What are Cuba’s greatest mental health needs?
  • For Cuban mental health counselors, what training is provided, and what are the licensing requirements and standards of practice?
  • What is the role of Universal Health Care, and how are mental health needs met within this infrastructure?
  • What are the treatment plans for depression and anxiety?
  • How are psychotropic medications used in treatment?
  • What are Cuba’s disaster-response plans, and what are considered effective trauma and PTSD treatments?

Eligibility Requirements
As you may know, the United States restricts travel to Cuba. The U.S. government does, however, authorize full-time professionals to conduct a full-time schedule of research-related activities in Cuba, with the likelihood that this research will be publicly disseminated. 

To ensure compliance with federal regulations, each participant in the program will be required to provide a resume and sign an affidavit attesting to their status as a full-time professional, paid or unpaid, in the field of mental health services. During travel, each delegation member will be given a copy of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulation that will serve as the license to travel within Cuba. Academic Travel Abroad is licensed by OFAC as a Travel Services Provider for U.S. travel to Cuba.

Though U.S. travel to Cuba is restricted, nearly 2 million tourists visited Cuba in 2003, predominantly from Canada and the European Union. Cuba has tripled its market share of Caribbean tourism in the last decade, and as a result of Cuba’s significant investment in tourism infrastructure, this growth rate is predicted to continue.

Cost Includes Hotels, All Meals, Some Airfare

The cost per delegate is $3,995, double occupancy. This charge includes:

  • Roundtrip international air-fare from Miami to Havana *
  • Group transportation in Havana and all ground transfers
  • Professional meetings with members of the Cuban health, social service, and child welfare and aging systems
  • Accommodations at the Sol Melia Cohiba Hotel, Havana (double occupancy—for single rooms, add $400)
  • All meals (with the exception of one evening meal at a paladar)
  • All entrance fees for cultural orientation visits
  • Cuban Visa and required Cuban health insurance

Please note that the program does not include travel to and from your home airport to Miami.
For U.S. citizens, expenses associated with this program may be tax deductible as an ordinary and necessary business expense. Please consult with a tax advisor to determine if tax deductibility is applicable to you.

For More Information

Each Program will include a briefing by the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, to provide a foundation for the site visits and meetings. View the preliminary program here. Please respond to this invitation as soon as possible if you are considering being part of AMHCA’s delegation. Reserve your position on the team by calling Professionals Abroad at 1–877–298–9677, or by visiting the Professionals Abroad website

If you are unable to accept this invitation, you may recommend a colleague as your alternate for the program.

If you have any questions regarding the delegation, contact AMHCA’s program representative, Aishah Clarke, at Professionals Abroad at 1-877-298-9677. Click here for an overview; or review online the itinerary, read about delegation leader Tom Ferro’s background, or recommend that a colleague be invited.

“I am pleased AMHCA has this unique opportunity for professional research in Cuba, and I hope you will consider continuing your professional development through this exclusive AMHCA program,” said Ferro. “I would not want you to miss what will surely be a unique educational experience in Cuba.”