i was amazed to hear that the country who has offered the most help with doctors to fight this ebola crisis – is cuba – cuba is renowned for its wonderful medicine and wealth of doctors, but now i have utter admiration for its compassionate and selfless offer of treating patients . being a communist country its also a sad fact that doctors are not paid much more than other trades, so it was surprising to hear that one of our waiters was a doctor, but waiting tables to supplement his income too.
there are a few old style pharmacies left in cuba – the french pharmacy was founded in 1882, but turned into a the Pharmaceutical Museum in 1964 – medicinal herbs were processed here, which are the source of drugs. there are beautiful medicinal jars, books and utensils – all showing the history of medications available to the public. situated on the main shopping street, Obispo, between mercaderes and san ignacio, Havana, entrance is free and its well worth a visit; there is also Johnson’s drug store. like most of restored old Havana, everything seems to be a museum. i guess that as there is nothing much to sell, then all these beautiful buildings can only serve to be museums. you can still however buy a few basic medicines, and you can see locals choosing from the small display cabinet amongst the exhibition pieces.
there is something soothing about old pharmacies, there used to be lots in london, but they seem to be getting modernised all the time. dont know of any old ones now with the beautiful cabinets and jars, but i did find this interesting site that hires out old pharmaceutical accessories and jars etc. curious science, otherwise, you would have to scour the old markets like portobello to find stuff like this. i have old chemistry bottles in my bathroom, filled with bubble bath and shampoo.