Health with Totalitarianism, Health at the Planet’s Expense or Formal Democracy without Health

Erasmo Calzadilla

HAVANA TIMES — Let us continue to go through Cuba’s 2015 Yearly Statistics Report. In the first post of this series, we analyzed the demographic trends in contemporary Cuban society and, in the second, we tackled health services and resources. In this piece, we are going to compare our country’s main health indicators with those of the rest of the world.

The following graphs summarize the situation:

Grafico 1 version 1
Life expectancy at birth, Infant mortality rate and the maternal mortality rate.

On the average, Cubans enjoy a life expectancy eight years longer than what we find in the rest of the world. The life expectancy at birth of our rich neighbors (the United States and Canada) is only one year above ours.

This graph does not show any values per se because its aim is to illustrate proportional magnitudes.
GDP, energy consumption and the ecological footprint. This graph does not show any values per se because its aim is to illustrate proportional magnitudes.

Infant and maternal mortality rates on the Caribbean island are on a par with those of developed countries. The difference is that Cuba achieves this with a very low GDP and per capita energy consumption level, and with an ecologic footprint that barely exceeds the planet’s bio-capacity. In Latin America and the rest of the world, maternal and infant mortality rates are a genuine disaster.

The Cuban experiment demonstrates that underdeveloped countries can aspire to an acceptable health system, that one needn’t be a superpower to do so.

To achieve high human development at the expense of dirtying the planet and as a result of unjust socio-economic relations (shoveling manure on others) is a measly and bitter victory, but to do so employing dictatorial and totalitarian methods isn’t acceptable either.

The alternative does not appear to be in Latin America, a continent where formal democracy (where it exists) has not been able to offer the people a good health system. What real or utopian society could offer us the inspiration to build a better future? I leave the question with you, dear commentators, who know more of the outside world than I. I only ask that, this time around, you do not mention Singapore and the Scandinavian countries as ideal models for Cuba, as this is not the cartoon section.

A question that went unanswered in the previous post: are Cuba’s grandiose achievements in the area of health, as presented by official statistics, real? The numbers presented by the government generate justified suspicions, but the indices related to mortality (as those exposed in this article) are harder to doctor. I don’t know of any serious analyst who questions them.


Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.

16 thoughts on “Health in Cuba: The Only Viable Options?

  • You are correct in thinking that Cubans don’t realize that they are in many ways rich. They have a social system based upon the extended family and music, both of which are free because the Castro regime cannot control them – although Fidel Castro endeavored initially to do so with the Beatles. In every other respect they are poor. It is in my view absolute balderdash to say that sexual activity is: “through the roof in Cuba”, and I challenge you to substantiate that comment. With less than 20% of the food consumed being produced in Cuba, whether it is “organic” or not is immaterial and in any case, if I was to place half a dozen samples of so-called organic food and similarly half a dozen samples of non organic food before you, you would be unable to tell one from the other.

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