AMHERST, Mass. - A new pilot program offering students, faculty and staff the opportunity to study the public health system in Cuba has been suspended following an assessment by the International Programs Office (IPO) of the impact of Hurricane Irma on the island.
IPO issued the following statement Sept. 20:
The International Programs Office, in consultation with on-campus and off-campus partners, made the very challenging decision to suspend its program in Cuba. The safety of our students is our number one priority at IPO and unfortunately, the situation on the ground in Cuba as a result of Hurricane Irma is still very unstable. IPO learned that many of the housing units where students were to live were badly damaged in the flooding, as was the center where classes were to take place.
In making this decision, we carefully followed a variety of sources including news out of Havana, as well as updates from the U.S. government. The latest Travel Warning from the Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Cuba while recovery efforts are underway and the U.S. Embassy in Havana has limited service available and advises people not come to the embassy at this time. It is challenging to assess when Cuba will be up and running with all services (electricity, gas, running water) completely restored but unfortunately it does look like a long road of recovery ahead.
Through IPO’s strong partnerships with other programs, six of the 13 students originally planning to study in Cuba secured places on other programs this semester in Costa Rica and Spain. Students on campus were given multiple supports to get them enrolled in classes, find housing and assist them with any other issues as a result of this decision.