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Concepcion Campa Huergo

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Concepcion Campa Huergo

          By: Estephany Flores 


     Concepcion Campa Huergo (b. 12 May, 1951 - Present) is a Cuban scientist that created the first vaccine to effectively defeat meningitis. She was born in Sagua La Grande, Cuba in May 12, 1951 and today is

62 years old. Concepcion studied pharmaceutical science in University of Havana and is currently the director of the Finlay Institute of Cuba.



       Concepcion Campa is a well-known Cuban scientist who is known worldwide for creating the only effective vaccine against meningitis B and C. She was born in Sagua La Grande, Cuba on May 12, 1951. She studied pharmaceutical sciences in the University of Havana and in 1976 started working at the Finlay Institute of vaccine research and production center. By 1989 she had become the general director of the Finlay Institute and has remained director ever since. In result of her creation of the meningitis B and C vaccine the World Intellectual Property Organization awarded Concepcion Campa a golden medal in December of 1989.


Contributions to STEM

      Concepcion Campa is best known for the creation of the one and only vaccine that can destroy meningitis. Meningitis is a deadly disease that can affect all of the human race, but most cases of meningitis occur in infants. Meningitis is the inflammation in the spinal cord and lining that surrounds the brain and can also kill someone in only a matter of hours. In 1982 this severe disease took a huge toll on the lives of many Cubans. The citizens of  Cuba were desperate for a cure against meningitis and Campa and a group of Cuba’s most intelligent scientist were gathered and given a lifesaving mission. They had received the task of creating the first vaccine to fight meningitis. Campa lead this group of intellectual scientist for five years in the hopes of creating a vaccine to help not only Cuba end the awful meningitis epidemic, but to make it available for all humanity. Finally, in 1987 the vaccine was ready to be submitted for testing and succeeded to defeat meningitis. The vaccine Cuba had been waiting for was finally available and it was named VAC-MENGOC-BC. This vaccine proved to the world the quality of work of these intelligent scientist and made Cuba shine in success. In 1988 the vaccine began to be distributed among the Cuban society and in the first year of using the vaccine cases of meningitis were decreased by 50%. Today thanks to the meningitis vaccine Cuba holds the lowest meningitis incidence rate of .2%. Campa truly showed her integrity and intelligence during the time she lead the project that created the meningitis vaccine and in result of this she was awarded the WIPO golden medal and not much later was made the general director of the Finlay Institute. 

            Concepcion Campa continues to be the general director of the Finlay Institute and also continues to develop and engage in many life changing projects. Campa is currently leading many projects including the creation of vaccines for cholera, hepatitis, and dengue fever. These three diseases are affecting Cuba today and Campa and a group of scientist are striving to find vaccines or some sort of medicine to put a stop to all these diseases. Another project Campa is very involved in is the homeopath approach to leptospirosis also known as swamp fever. Swamp fever is a problem Cuba faces every year during flood season that results in leptospirosis epidemics. Since 2008 Campa and the scientist working beside her at Finlay Institute have taken homeopathic approaches to put a stop to swamp fever and results have proven to be a complete success. According to Web MD homeopathy is the beliefs that “if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person, giving the person a very small amount of the same substance may cure the illness” (N.P.). Homeopathic medicine is more familiarly known as remedies that are a more natural, herbal, and non-toxic to the body. Not everyone all over the world is convinced of this method of healing, but Campa and all of Cuba have witnessed the healing of leptospirosis through homeopathic medicine and are open minded to its practices. Homeopathic medicine has proven to even be more effective than the previous vaccines and antibiotics that had been applied yearly to the Cuban society during the flood seasons. However, in 2008 the homeopathic nosodes were distributed to 2.5 million Cubans that were suspected to have leptospirosis and the results were somewhat extraordinary. Campa and her fellow scientist had been more than successful. They had lowered the thousands of yearly cases of leptospirosis to ten cases with no deaths in just one year and all thanks to homeopathic medicine. Campa and all the scientist that had helped develop the homeopathic cure to leptospirosis had not only incredibly lowered the amount of leptospirosis cases, but managed to save Cuba quiet a good amount of money by using homeopathy rather than vaccines and antibiotics. In 2008 they used $200,000 on the homeopathic health campaign compared to the previous costs of $2,000,000 spent on vaccines and antibiotics spent yearly. This had truly not only been an accomplishment for Campa and the Finlay Institute, but for all of Cuba.

            As a smart and well known women of the Cuban society Concepcion Campa participates in many important groups of Cuba. She is a member of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) which is an organization that promotes women equality and helps women reach their full potential in all levels of society.  The Federation of Cuban Women was founded in August 1960 and today consists of four million female members. The FMC requires women to be at least 14 year old and you can voluntarily join. Another group Campa has been a member of is Cuba’s communist party. This party was founded in October of 1965 by Fidel Castro and has remained in place ever since. Campa was a member of Cuba’s communist party from 1991 all through 2011. During Campa’s time in Cuba’s communist party she became friends with Cuba’s communist leader, Fidel Castro. She refers to him as a good friend and the man who motivated her and the scientist at Finlay Institute to develop the meningitis vaccine. Today, Campa is currently the head of the Academy of Science in Cuba and is also part of the Committee of Experts on Human and Veterinary Vaccines of CITMA. She is also known for her many publications and for participating in many conferences worldwide. Her work is known and admired by many all through the world.


Interesting Facts 

     Concepcion Campa is very loved and known all throughout Cuba. The citizens of Cuba refer to her as “Conchita” as a form of endearment. She is admired and seen as a humble and hard working women who loves her country and embraces life. During an interview by Cuba Informacion TV she shared some interesting facts about herself and talked about her life. Campa mentioned that she loves her job and even referred to herself as a workaholic. She emphasized her love for nature and explained her beliefs of there being a balance between chemical medicine and the medicine nature offers. She believes that nature holds the power to cure any disease. Campa is also a firm vegetarian and she explained that becoming a vegetarian changed her life completely. Campa explained that becoming a vegetarian was a decision she took because she was feeling weak and felt that her body was being intoxicated. She went on to say that she might look thin, but she feels great.  Campa also admitted to enjoying cooking, movies, books, and mentioned she loves yoga. Campa truly has a tender heart and a unique perspective of the world.


Impact on 21st Century Society and Culture

     Concepcion Campa is absolutely an extraordinary and intelligent women scientist known worldwide, but her works and all of Cuba’s are not recognized in the United States. The reason why is because of the Cuban embargo. The Cuban embargo doesn’t allow doctors of the United States to buy any biotechnology products from Cuba and that would include Campa’s meningitis vaccine. The Cuban meningitis vaccine is the only commercially recognized vaccine to destroy meningitis and the United States won’t allow the use of it because of previous political turmoil. Many believe this is not only unfair to Campa and all her hard work, but it is also unfair to all the citizens of the United States who are not able to receive the vaccine in any case of meningitis. The United States has previously addressed this issue and has claimed to fear bioterrorism threats from buying the meningitis vaccine from Cuba. Campa heard about the bioterrorism accusations and was interviewed by MEDICC and she had quite a bit to say. During this interview she was questioned about the bioterrorism accusation and she responded “here we are working tirelessly day and night to save lives. It is inconceivable that these same people would want to take lives” (Gorry, 13). This makes perfect sense to many, but the United States government isn’t on the same page with Campa. Campa assured MEDICC that the bioterrorism accusations hurt Cuba more than the Cuban embargo and she would be more than happy if one day her meningitis vaccine was available to all citizens of the United States.


Work Cited

“Homeopathy Halts Cuban Epidemic Better Than Vaccines.”  TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com. Austus Foods LLC, 11 Jan. 2012. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.


Becerra, Karel. “Increase in Dengue, Cholera and Other Viruses in Cuba.” CubaAdvisory.Wordpress.com. The Oxygen Theme, 22 Nov. 2013.


     Web. 4  Feb. 2014.


“Homeopathy Associated With Dramatic Reduction in Leptospirosis Infection in Cuban Population.” MedicalNewsToday.com.               


     MediLexicon International Ltd, 9 Aug 2010.  Web. 4 Feb. 2014.


“What are meningitis and septicaemia?” Meningitis.org. Meningitis Research  Foundation, n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.


 “Meet Concepcion Campa Huergo- the Cuban woman who developed the Meningitis B vaccine that is banned in the US because of the                                              

     Embargo.” WomenRockScience.tumblr.com. N.p., 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 4 Feb 2014.


Corrales, Ruben.“Concepcion Campa y la Vacuna Contra la Meningitis.” Mujeryciencia.es. Mujer y Ciencia, 6 Oct. 2009. Web. 4 Feb 2014.


“Concepcion Campa Huergo.” Ecured.cu. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.


“Federation of Cuban Women.” Ecured.cu. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb 2014.


“Partido Comunista de Cuba.” Ecured.cu. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb 2014.


“Concepción Campa, President of Finlay Institute of Cuba.” Online video clip. Daily Motion. Daily Motion, 26 Oct. 2008. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.


“What is homeopathy?” Webmd.com. WebMD, LLC, 30 June 2009. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.

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