Havana Syndrome


                                         BY: Boateng Valice Godstime

University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho

MBChB’ 27

Editor: Aishah Fadila Adamu

Havana Syndrome, also referred to as “Anomalous Health Incidents” is an alleged set of medical symptoms with unknown causes experienced mostly by USA diplomats, government officials, intelligence and military personnel and their families.

It was coined after a group of diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, reported illnesses ranging from headaches to loss of balance and other neurological difficulties during their stay in the Hotel Nacional in 2016. The diplomats had been dispatched to Cuba as part of the rapprochement between the two countriesafter conditions had severed diplomatic relations between them.The emergence of the ailments on Cuban soil strained those developing ties. Since the initial cases, diplomats and intelligence officers stationed around the world have experienced similar symptoms. Those affected report a range of conditions including dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, cognitive difficulties, and memory loss of varying severity. Some diplomats and intelligence officers have left active service due to complications from the condition.

There have been numerous investigations into the possible causes of Havana Syndrome. USA intelligence and government officials expressed suspicions to the press that Russian military intelligence is responsible. A 2021 review by a panel of experts convened by the intelligence community said some incidents of Havana Syndrome are most likely caused by directed energy or acoustic devices and can’t be explained by other factors. A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine assessment suggested pulsed radio frequency energy as a possible culprit, saying that the signs and symptoms were “unlike any disorder in the neurological or general medical literature.”

 A comprehensive review by the CIA made public in January 2022 concluded that it was unlikely that any foreign power was behind the bulk of the attacks, though the agency said it was evaluating a small number of cases to determine whether a foreign actor was behind them. Like the DNI, the CIA assessed that medical conditions, stress or other factors were the cause of most cases. In February 2022, a panel of experts assembled by the Biden administration released an executive summary stating that stress or psychosomatic reactions could not explain some of the incidents of Havana syndrome it had reviewed and that radio waves could have caused some of the injuries of the CIA officers and diplomats. The State Department also released the JASON report, which stated that it was unlikely that a directed energy attack had caused the health incidents.

The most recent and authoritative reviews cast doubt on the idea that a directed energy weapon or surveillance device was afflicting U.S. diplomats and spies. The report was the culmination of a yearslong effort to investigate the phenomenon that involved hundreds of personnel from multiple spy agencies and stepped-up intelligence collection globally. The report released in March 2023 by the Director of National Intelligence found no credible evidence that any foreign adversary was using anything that was causing the injuries reported. Instead, they concluded that a combination of factors including pre-existing medical conditions, conventional illnesses, and environmental factors were the cause of the reported symptoms.

Research is ongoing to find the possible cause and remedy to curb this new syndrome.

References: https://www.wsj.com/articles/havana-syndrome-symptoms-11626882951



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