Unlike standard trade missions, this weeklong trip is intended to be more of a listening tour to learn about Cuba’s medical system.
OLYMPIA — A delegation of state officials plans to head south to Cuba in September.
But unlike standard trade missions, this weeklong trip is intended to be more of a listening tour, according to Lt. Gov. Brad Owen. The trip comes as U.S.-Cuba relations warm and the United States eases commerce and travel restrictions.
Owen, a veteran of trade missions who is retiring this year, will lead the delegation. The trip will focus on learning about Cuba’s long-recognized medical system, from its minister of public health, medical universities and local clinics.
“We hope to get some ideas on some things we might be able to implement to make our health-care system a little more efficient, a little more data-driven,” Owen said Wednesday.
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Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, came up with the idea for the mission and is one of four state senators scheduled to be on the trip.
Keiser hopes Washington officials can pick up ideas to improve primary and preventive medical care.
“So many things can be either prevented or avoided,” with better care early on, she said.
Among others, the 19-member group will include Lisa Brown, chancellor of Washington State University’s medical college, officials from the Washington State Department of Health and Washington State Hospital Association, and Babak Parviz, vice president of Amazon.com.
The delegation will spend a week in Cuba, beginning Sept. 4, according to a news release by the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council. No itinerary was provided.
The mission might have had a broader focus, but the Washington State Department of Agriculture wasn’t interested in sending a representative, according to the news release.
And no representatives from major state companies such as Boeing, Microsoft or Starbucks have signed on.