Cuba is a Medical Superpower

Elio Delgado Legón

Cuban doctors.

HAVANA TIMES — The news reached me from the city of Moron, in Cuba’s province of Ciego de Avila. The title got me thinking immediately. The piece was about a 13-year-old teenager who, while enjoying carnival festivities at an amusement park in the town of Cacahual fell from a height of about 8 meters, hit the pavement and suffered a serious head trauma.

The kid was taken, unconscious, to the Roberto Rodriguez Hospital in Moron, where they diagnosed him with a severe cranioencephalic trauma, a traumatic bursting of the cranial vault, a diffuse, grade 4 axonal lesion, a traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage and a severe pulmonary contusion.

A complex, 4-hour-long surgical procedure (known as a decompressive cranioectomy) was performed in the emergency room.

According to the doctor’s statement, 50 percent of the upper skull was removed and the cranial cavity expanded so that the swollen brain had room to expand and did not suffer the dangerous effects of intracranial hypertension, common in these cases.

A system for monitoring his intracranial pressure continuously was set up to follow the behavior of this variable and others, such as his cerebral perfusion and the cranium’s hemodynamics.

The patient made favorable progress, and a computerized axial tomography showed that his neurological structures were in perfect state, so he was discharged.

The boy’s mother said she didn’t know how to thank the doctors, nurses and auxiliary personnel for their efforts and the loving dedication they showed them at the hospital.

The case of the 13-year-old boy saved at the hospital in Moron is but one example of the many lives saved by Cuba’s public health system, not only in Cuba, but in more than 60 countries around the world as well.

That said, the US blockade on Cuba prevents the island from obtaining numerous pieces of medical equipment, medications and reagants that would help save the lives of more children and adults.

It is incomprehensible for me that a country should deny another the possibility of acquiring medical supplies used to save lives, especially those of children. They are inhumane measures that can only be conceived by sick minds moved by fascist hatred.

Cuba, however, continues to make huge efforts to save lives and, thanks to the care and love that its well-trained doctors offer the people, feats like the one described at the beginning of this post are accomplished.

David Nabarro, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General, recently visited Havana to discuss the issue of Ebola and declared: “When deployment is complete (…) you will have sent 255 frontline workers to West Africa. This is more than those sent by Doctors Without Borders and the International Federation of the Red Cross, it is more than what the United States or the United Kingdom have sent, more than China sent (…)”

After reading a message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Nabarro said that the sending of thousands of specialists to more than 39 countries in Africa and other nations in recent years demonstrates Cuba’s solidarity in the sphere of health. I would add: it also demonstrates that Cuba is, without a doubt, a medical superpower.



Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

Elio Delgado Legon has 246 posts and counting. See all posts by Elio Delgado Legon

24 thoughts on “Cuba is a Medical Superpower

  • I was a Canadian on vacation in Cuba. The day I left for Cuba Type 1 Diabetes hit me. My father thought I was sick from too much excitement. The day after we arrived in Cuba I was rushed to the Hospital in Moron as I was unconscious due to my sugars being soo high. The HCT at the hospital in Moron had me stablized and took a great amount of care for me and I was eventually airlifed back home. I would like to thank them as I was diagnosed at age 11, now I am 28 years of age and still living strong with T1D.

  • I think the Cuban Embargo needs to be lifted. This is 2015 and the Cuban Embargo was made on an old mentality of bad blood. The U.N. General Assembly even voted 188 to 2 in favor of the demolition of the embargo for the 22nd yea in a row. The 2 opposing countries being America and Israel. The Embargo needs to be lifted and especially because that the moment the U.S. is in $17 trillion in debt (that is domestic issues, federal issues, and debt to foreign countries) and President Obama just vetoed the Keystone Pipeline which was supposed to make 42,000 jobs. Hello more money?!? America Needs Money!! Lift the embargo. And in the long run we get out of debt and have a new alliance.

  • Thank god medical misdiagnosis’ only occur in Cuba !!

  • It is illegal for any Cuban to provide any information about the medical system that has not been approved by the regime. When visiting medical delegations visit Cuba on their Potemkin Village tours, the only information they are provided with are those approved by the regime.

    I don’t know why you call it my embargo. Canada does not have any embargo on Cuba.

    The truth about Cuba’s medical system is available for those who want to know:
    http://www.therealcuba.com/Page10.htm

  • Interestingly, as I was reading Griffin’s post above, I received an e-mail from a friend in Holguin. Her aunt, a nurse, died over the weekend from misdiagnosed appendicitis. This diagnosis is made in the US with the aid of CT scans, ultrasounds, and the use of laparoscopy.

    One can speculate if her death was a result of poor medical training, lack of modern technological equipment, or simply the fact that modern medicine anywhere still is imperfect.

    I only know that if I am in Cuba and develop severe pain in my side, my diagnosis is going to be made by a doctor in Miami, not one in Cuba.

  • AI just doesn’t seem to be buying into your self-serving lies and rationalizations and clearly in no way considers the embargo genocidal. That is clear

  • I can’t understand why you so desperately try to post these same tired old exposed propaganda lies. In various conversations in the past lots of people have shown that the article you refer to (2c) isn’t applicable. It requires an “intent to kill” and there isn’t any “intent to kill” in the embargo.
    It is also intellectually dishonest to misrepresent what the UN and Amnesty International said: they do not consider the embargo a genocide in any way. That is your false claim. None of the links you post, whatever criticism of the embargo one finds, even remotely suggest the organization considers the embargo genocide.

  • The CIA just reproduces UN statistics that the UN itself reproduced from the Cuban submission. Neither the UN, WHO, … or the CIA have verified or – as you claim – endorsed these statistics. In fact: both medical and economical statistics put out by Cuba have been challenged by international experts and Cuban experts that have left the island.

  • Unlike you, the CIA cannot afford to be seen as an international laughingstock. Many foreign delegations of medical experts have gone to Cuba to observe the healthcare system for themselves. Despite your best efforts the overwhelming consensus of the international medical community is that Cuba is doing an amazing job under the circumstances — i.e. your beloved genocidal embargo.

  • A good comment. However, you mistakenly assume DC1945 is Cuban and lives in Cuba. On the contrary Dan (that’s his real name) lives in Canada where he enjoys our free, democratic and fluent society. He would never dream of actually subjecting himself to the repression, shortages and poverty of life under the Castro regime he maniacally defends in his hysterical comments.

  • The Cuban medical system is organized around sending medical teams abroad to earn cash for the regime. As such, it is based on having a large number of doctors, as you noted.

    However, there is another problem with that scheme. It requires the Cuban system educate and train such a large number of doctors.

    Cuba is a country which produces 1/10th the quantity of sugar today than before the revolution, which has no major manufacturing operations, which must import over 80% of the food they consume, which has a crumbling infrastructure and collapsing buildings. How is it possible they manage to train so many competent doctors? Are these “doctors” actually well trained” A white lab coat and a stethoscope do not a doctor make.

  • While Cuba’s medical system serves the needs of the Cuban citizens and serves as medical diplomacy currently, there is one significant underlying problem. The current medical system is based on having a large number of doctors. This is currently possible because of the doctors extremely low pay scale. The extremely low pay scale is possible only because the pay scale of the country is also extremely low.

    Someday there will be economic improvement in the lives of Cubans where they are paid a wage they can actually live on. This will drive doctors compensation up to more realistic levels thus making Cuban unable to afford the large number of doctors and the current medical system.

    So it is a Catch 22. Either the Cuban people suffer their current economic problems or or the current medical system exists. But both are not possible at the same time.

  • “Must be frustrating as hell for you..”

    We aren’t the ones complaining. You and the author are.

  • Viva Cuba! What these fascists say no one cares, Cuba is supported by the world (as the UN vote against blockade clearly showed). US and Israel alone voted against! Venezuela in the security council. It must be depressing today to be against Cuba…. and a lonely place except Miami!

  • The CIA has not been ‘forced to concede” anything of the sort. The infant mortality rate reported on the CIA website come straight from the official Cuban government statistics office, which the CIA wordbook points out is of dubious accuracy. The Castro regime has never allowed an independent study of the health system.

    One reason the Cuban infant mortality rate is reported so low is because the government records the deaths of babies still-born or who die within the first few days of birth as pre-natal mortalities, and therefore these do not show up a infant mortalities. The US and most other countries records such deaths as infant mortalities. Also, the Cuban authorities perform late-term abortions on any suspected birth defect rather than allow the baby to be born.

    In short: the feature of the Cuban healthcare system you praise and admire is morally monstrous.

  • Such a “medical disaster” that, as even your pals at the CIA have been forced to concede, Cuba has the lowest infant mortality rate in the Americas (4.70). (Recall that the IMR is the single most reliable indicator of a population’s general level of health.) Much better than the USA (6.17), even marginally better than Canada (4.71). Must be frustrating as hell for you. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

  • Whether it was first-hand observation or through various UN agencies, AI thought it was sufficient to repeatedly call for the lifting of these illegal, cruel and inhumane sanctions. Like the governments of every other country on the planet — as shown again this week at the UN — AI just doesn’t seem to be buying into your self-serving lies and rationalizations for what amounts to a form of genocide targeting every man woman and child on the island. Must be frustrating as hell for you.

  • Cuba – for Cubans – has become a medical disaster. the “medical superpower” consists of the apartheid hospitals for Cubans, the Ebola / Haiti propaganda operations and the 8 billion “doctors for rent” program.
    In the mean time the Cuban people face understaffed, under equipped and under supplied hospitals.

    What Moses posted are neither lies nor “self serving rationalizations”. He posts facts.
    You are just mindlessly spamming this group with the same old lies.
    Your own post exposes your lies. Article 2c requires an “intent to kill”.
    The US is far from “killing Cubans” and there is even no intent to do so. The US supplies food and medicines to Cuba. The vast majority of the remittances that keep 65% of Cuban families alive come from the US.

  • Like I said trade with the Chinese and with the Russians. Why are you so worried about the US not doing business with you when you should be worried about one family owning your entire country and everything in it …. namely the Castros. I can promise you one thing if the great country of Cuba would hold free and honest multiparty elections and allow individuals to own property and businesses in a real way and also end the fascist system that is the current Cuba you would see a huge change in the US policy towards your country. This isn’t our fault. It is solely the fault of your Stalinist/Fascist leaders and your people for not marching on your capital demanding the basic rights of human existence be restored.

    Peace.

  • Dan, did you actually read the AI documents that you linked? First of all, in the fourth document, page 6., “Amnesty International has been unable to document at first hand the effects of the embargo on the enjoyment of these rights due to the organization’s lack of access to Cuba. The information in this report is based mostly on reports from UN agencies and programmes operating in Cuba” The AI reports are based on second-hand information. Why is that? Because Cuba will not permit AI to do their own investigation. Why is that? Because, contained in the very documents you have linked are AI’s harsh criticisms of the Castro regime. Second, NOWHERE does AI say the US embargo PREVENTS the importation of medical equipment into Cuba. The US does not permit Cuba to buy on credit. The Castros have to pay cash up front. Because the Castros have an atrocious credit history, this is no surprise The challenges that Cuba must overcome to purchase medical equipment is largely financial. Finally, only you can define the US sending nearly $5 billion in remittances, more than half a million tourists and the sale of more than $1.5 billion in food to Cuba as genocide. Look up the word, you clearly don’t know what it means.

  • As we saw again this week at the UN, no one, not even your closest allies there are buying into your self-serving lies and rationalizations in support of these illegal, cruel and inhumane sanctions of yours. Only Israel voted with the US against the resolution calling for their immediate and unconditional lifting. Only 3 tiny US colonies in the South Pacific abstained. And even Israel, who trades freely with Cuba anyway, wisely declined to speak to the matter. On this insane policy, the US is completely isolated on the world stage.

    Neither are human rights groups like Amnesty International buying into your lies and rationalizations. AI, for example, has all but called for the arrests of the perpetrators of these illegal, cruel and inhumane sanctions of yours. They have reported:

    “The US government is acting CONTRARY to the Charter of the United Nations [i.e. acting illegally] by restricting the direct import of medicine and medical equipment and supplies, and by imposing those restrictions on companies operating in third countries.”

    “The RESTRICTIONS IMPOSED BY THE EMBARGO help to deprive Cuba of vital access to medicines, new scientific and medical technology, food, chemical water treatment and electricity.”

    “The US embargo against Cuba is IMMORAL and should be lifted. It’s preventing millions of Cubans from benefiting from vital medicines and medical equipment essential for their health.”

    “Amnesty International calls on the US Congress to take, WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY, the necessary steps towards lifting the economic, financial and trade embargo against Cuba.”

    “UN agencies working in Cuba, such as the WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA, continued [as of their 2013 report] to report the negative effects of the US embargo on the health of the population, particularly members of marginalized groups. Access to specific commodities, equipment, medicines and laboratory materials remained scarce as a result of restrictions imposed on the importation of items manufactured by US companies and their subsidiaries or produced under US patents.”

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/002/2009/en/e7b1efe4-27f4-4b2c-9a39-23c88749e39e/amr250022009en.html

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/president-obama-should-take-lead-lifting-embargo-against-cuba-20090902

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/007/2009/en/51469f8b-73f8-47a2-a5bd-f839adf50488/amr250072009eng.pdf

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/cuba/report-2012

    Under international law (Article 2c, UN Genocide Convention) such sanctions are actually a form of genocide. Makes you proud, don’t it, America?

  • If Cuba is a “Medical Superpower” does the Castro “government” hide epidemics there? Opps, forgot that they dont want to loose all that tourism money!

    HAVANA TIMES: Cholera Warning for Cuba Issued by USA – August 21, 2013

    As of this publication, the Cuban authorities have not issued any
    information on the alert, presumably to not generate an alarm that could
    affect tourism, one of the main economic engines of the island,
    generating an estimated 2.5 billion US dollars in revenue in 2011
    according to official data.

    The disease was eradicated on the island since 1882, in the time of
    the Spanish colonial rule, until earlier this year, when the Cuban
    Ministry of Public Health issued a report which recognized the existence
    of 51 cases of cholera in Havana and several cases in the eastern
    provinces, noted dpa.

    http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=98210

    This article sheds more information on the doctors rackets that the Castro “government” has to earn much needed cash!

    DEUTSCHE WELLE GERMAN NEWS: Cuban doctors fight Ebola in Western Africa ‘voluntarily’

    The government in Havana earns more than six billion euros a year ($7.6
    billion) through these doctors, because only a fraction of what the
    doctors cost these foreign nations are paid out in their salaries.

    Brazil pays Havana 3,100 euros per doctor per month. Only because of
    pressure from Brazil’s government do these doctors now get at least 900
    euros per month. According to WHO representative Di Fabio, the Cuban
    government receives a daily flat rate of 190 euros per helper.

    The Cuban Embassy in Berlin did not respond to DW’s request for
    information as to the salaries of doctors in Ebola-affected regions.

    http://www.dw.de/cuban-doctors

  • Jajajaja! Ay, pobrecito. Elio so badly wants to feel important. The truth is being a superpower in anything isn’t what it cracks up to be. Cuba is hardly a medical superpower. I have long commented here at HT that my best friend in Cuba is a neurosurgeon at Calixto Garcia Hospital in Havana. I have put him in contact with a neurosurgical association here in the US. He reads the medical journal from this group and laments how advanced neurosurgical techniques and practices are in the US in comparison to what is practiced in Cuba. Let’s be clear: THERE IS NO US EMBARGO AGAINST MEDICAL EQUIPMENT. The only obstacle and it is an obstacle is that the Castros have to pay cash. No credit arrangements permitted. Is that any surprise? The Castros are notorious financial deadbeats. I have been told that the CIMEQ medical facility is as well-equipped as any hospital in the world. Of course, this is the facility Fidel and his cronies have exclusive access to. It is the facility that Venezuela’s Chavez was treated at. So if the embargo prevents Cuba from access to the lastest medical advances, how is it that CIMEQ is so well-equipped. The truth is that Cuba can’t afford to buy this equipment, and not that they don’t have access. Kudos to the Cuban people for sending the much-needed medical staff to fight Ebola. I am told these brigadiers were sent without sufficient supplies and are hoping to be supported by other foreign donors. This is reasonable given the poverty that the Castros have caused the Cuban people. But, to be sure, you can’t be a “superpower” until you are able to feed, supply and house your medical staff. Once again, Elio has stretched the truth.

  • Russia has medical equipment. See if Putin will give you all some. Why do you all keep looking at the Bad Ol’ U.S. as the source of your problems? Castro loves the Russians and the Chinese have medical equipment as well. Or your society could opt for free and fair multi-party elections and the god given rights of freedom and the right to own property. The more I follow this blog the funnier the stories become. This isn’t our (U.S.) fault it is your governments. Blame the boogeyman. Blame El Nino. Most of all blame all your problems on the bad old U.S.A.

    ROTFL.

    If you all had free speech and un-censored internet you’d see that ROTFL means rolling on the floor laughing…

    Lol

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