Cuba is an Example for the World Regarding Healthcare

By Elio Delgado Legon

Cuban doctors and other health workers leave for Nepal after an earthquake there. Foto:

HAVANA TIMES — The 3rd International Health Convention “Cuba Salud 2018” was held in Havana between April 23-27th 2018, and it gave Cuba the chance to showcase its achievements in this sector, including achievements made in collaboration with over 80 countries, since 1960.

UN officials who make an effort to improve people’s health around the globe (albeit unsuccessfully sometimes), have told the press what they think about Cuba’s health system and I will cite them so that they aren’t just my own opinions, which are understandly influenced by a healthy sense of pride of belonging to a country which is an example for how public health should be in the world.

Cristian Morales, Cuba’s representative at the Pan American and World Health Organizations (PAHO/WHO), stated that Cuba has reached indexes that compare to those in developed nations, in spite of a US blockade for over 55 years. He gave the example of Cuba being the first country in the world to be validated, in 2015, for having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis, and it has recently been validated again for two more years.

He reminded the press that Cuba is the country with the lowest child mortality rate in the Americas, as it has been under 5 for 10 years now and reached 4.0 in 2017. He highlighted the fact that they vaccinate citizens against 13 diseases and that the majority of these vaccines are produced in national labs. He also emphasized the fact that a Cuban’s life expectancy is almost 80 years of age, one of the highest in the Americas.

Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General, expressed his gratitude to Cuba for the example and role it has played in protecting others against diseases all over the world.

He stressed that Cuba is the perfect place to learn how to achieve universal access, even with few resources.

There are grounds for other countries attending the 3rd International Health Convention “Cuba Salud 2018” in the country’s achievements and efforts to improve the quality of healthcare services to its populaiton, the high ranking official said.

He pointed out that this wasn’t the first time that he had traveled to the largest of the Antilles and that every time he comes he discovers something new, not just in patient care but in scientific research too, developing new medicines and vaccines.

For example, the island has over 160 patents for its medicines, it produces eight of the thirteen vaccines it gives Cuban children and it is always open to cooperate internationally, he said. 

Adhanom also praised the fact that Cuba has been able to train its human resources (doctors, nurses and techicians), ready to serve in other countries and he pointed out the presence of over 48,000 Cuban healthcare professionals currently cooperating elsewhere.

Talking to national and international press, WHO’s Director-General mentioned the effort Cuba makes to keep its health system going, highlighting its intention to disclose how it has reached these high health indexes, along with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
He revealed that the Week of Vaccination in the Americas was launched for the first time during the 3rd International Health Convention “Cuba Salud 2018”, in this country, as it has managed to provide wide-spanning immunization to its children.

He underlined the fact that island’s politics in this field are in keeping with the WHO and PAHO’s aspirations when it comes to providing universal and free healthcare, which has Primary health centers as a platform or main stage, saying that Cuba is an example. 

The highest representatives of the WHO and PAHO said that they were happy to be in Cuba, for everything that it has managed to do when it comes to vaccinating its population, preventing disease and also in developing vaccines for other countries across the world.

As for me, I would just like to add what Cuba has done for healthcare in the rest of the world, training medical personnel for countries, especially young people who would never have been able to pay for a medicine degree in their own countries, where over 28,500 doctors from 103 countries, including the United States, have graduated.

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.

23 thoughts on “Cuba is an Example for the World Regarding Healthcare

  • May 8, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    thank you very much for the lesson

  • May 8, 2018 at 9:58 am

    First of all, here in the US, we have 3 basic health care systems. The best one, and it is among the best in the world, is the employer-sponsored system. The 2nd system is one designed for the self-employed. It is expensive and inconsistent. The third system is Medicare. It is the government-provided alternative. It is comparable to other government health care systems in other countries. Most of the criticism of health care in the US is aimed at the 2nd system. This portion of the overall health care system in the U.S. amount to approximately 15% of insured population. Taken as a whole the U.S. system, with all its flaws and defects, far exceeds what my Cuban family and friends have in Cuba. I don’t have to tip the doctor here. There are always fresh linens and brightly lit hallways in the hospitals. I have never suffered a shortage of medicine or medical supplies. Finally, there is no lack of doctors or nurses and neither are forced to look for outside income beyond their medical profession.

  • May 8, 2018 at 6:37 am

    my father, my mother, my wife, two brothers, two cousins and many friends are doctors here in Cuba, I would can to tell a lot about that so called “example” of public health, but, let’s assume that Cuban public health system is a success, let’s assume that is better than American health system with all the flaws it do has, ok.

    Are any of those that criticize the American health system and defending the Cuban willing to improve that one making USA a single party country, with no freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of movement inside your own country, freedom of protest, would you like to live 90 years in a country where a pair of shoes for a 4 years old girl cost your entire salary as a professional, half if you are a doctor? Cuban government to maintain the national health system needs to keep the people poor, out of internet, controlled, subjugated.

    That is the real cost of Cuban health care system, does any of you wants this for your country?

    Maybe I would agree do not have any of those human rights or freedom if this governmental absolutism is the only way to have a health care where children be vaccinated, they don´t die in labour, or have an specialist where to go if get ill, but this Castrism is not the only or the best way to have that, there is possible to have all your human rights, to be treated as a person and not as an object and at the same time to have a better health care that the one we have in Cuba.

    I don´t like the American health system, but if American can protest, vote, demand, talk, organize them self, why have they not improve their system? We Cubans cannot do any of that to change nothing in our country.

  • May 6, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    As one who knows much about agiculture and in particular livestock management (I have been quoted in leading agricultural journals and addressed meetings at many universities), I can say that if addressing getting high levels of production from cattle (beef or dairy), pigs, sheep, poultry and other species, it is necessary to keep them in good health. Good living conditions and availability of plenty of good food are other important elements. That is where the Castro communist regime has failed and in consequence although due to a fairly good medical system their human herd lives fairly long lives, the lack of access to good living conditions and good food reduces potential productivity. Elio ought to keep a few chickens and find out how to make them productive!

  • May 5, 2018 at 5:16 am

    when I travel to Cuba every year on mission trips. We set up small clinics at some of the house churches. Yes they have some of the best doctors in the world. The greatest problem is just the basic over the counter drugs and not available. Drugs like on the shelves in drugstores. Aspirin the 81mg low dosage that is used as a blood thinner is unknown in within most of the medical profession. Muscle rub also. I understand Cuba has a zero population growth. The population is getting older and very few children are being born. The younger generation can not afford children. If some would tell me if I had a choice to live and receive medical care between the USA and Cuba, I would pick USA with our socialist insurance problems. Socialism or communism or whatever you call their government has not impress me very much in Cuba..

  • May 2, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    The problems you describe are peculiar to the US which does not have a national health programme unlike the European countries, your neighbour Canada and many of the British Commonwealth countries. I guess in part that is because Americans cannot accept that such a social programme is not only sensible for all, but better economically. Canada (next door) with a national health service spends 10.3% of its GDP on health. The US spends an incredible 17,1% of its GDP.

  • May 2, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    You are correct Nick about the life expectancy in Cuba. But, it is also correct that refugees both political and economic have a shorter life expectancy. That affects the statistics of countries like Canada and the US. How many refugees are there in Cuba? The last census found only 5,500 people in a population of over 11 million who were not born in Cuba.
    Secondly Nick, I know personally quite a lot of older Cubans. One close neighbouring couple were married for 70 years before the wife died at 93 earlier this year. But that pension of 200 pesos a month meant that in the years I knew her, she never left home. Her family collected the permuta. Her husband now well into his nineties, similarly does not and has not for many years strayed far from home, taking only a short daily walk, now with the aid of a walker.
    What I am explaining Nick is that many older Cubans are only exposed to one form of stress, that of poverty.
    Incidentally, I attended the wake for the lady.

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