By Elio Delgado Legon
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.