A Small Health Care Army

Veronica Fernandez

Fumigator. File photo: Caridad

For more than three years, every day at 8:00 in the morning a group of around 40 people dressed in grayish-colored clothes invade the tranquility of my neighborhood – Cojimar, located to the east of Havana Bay.

Supposedly they’re in charge of checking houses with the aim of preventing or detecting breeding grounds of the (aedes aegypti) mosquitos”, which are the have caused so many unfortunate problems for the health of the Cuban population as transmitters of dengue fever.

Made up of young people and adults who are paid at the same rate as any professional, though a higher education is not required, this small army begins its mission by falling into formation in the middle of the street and later they’re deployed throughout the whole area.

When they get to a house, the first thing they do is ask for a small piece of paper that should have the signature of each inspector who has visited the home and the date of that inspection.

What’s strange is that sometimes two months will go by without any visits by them, yet there are periods when their ringing at the door is excessive, as they’ll visit us each and every day.

That was why I decided to check into the reason for this situation.

Last week I took out a little time and went to the person who was leading the uniformed detachment so that I could express my concern to him. He explained that the daily visits were occurring because they were being supervised by the Provincial Health Care Office, and that they had no choice but to follow their orders and check the homes daily.

That excellent answer made me realize that if this control wasn’t carried out then those people wouldn’t be fulfilling their jobs as they should or for the reason those were created. But then again, I also noted that real control doesn’t exist either; they only go to the houses, don’t check anything, and most of the times — without entering — they’ll only ask for the slip of paper, write down that they made their visit and then leave.

This is the current procedure of this health care army created in recent years by the government and in which the country has invested a grandiose sum of money for its creation and subsequent development. That’s how this collective works, without the least care about whether or not there exist mosquito larvae, uncovered water tanks or leaks, much less about advising the public of measures we should take to avoid the proliferation of the dangerous vector.

Can we trust them? Are they a part of the famous system of preventive medicine for which our health care system is so lauded? Who cares if they work well or poorly? Who’s harmed other than the people themselves? Can we advance like this?

We continue saying that changes are necessary, but more than changes what’s needed are demands. The first thing to demand is that people do their jobs and that their own results are felt. Then we’ll see if all the problems of Cuban society are based only in the verb to change or on the verb to demand.

One thought on “A Small Health Care Army

  • I recently spent three months living in Santiago de Cuba. Where I was staying we had three or four fumigations during that time, but they were not regular – we might go six weeks without one and then have two in a week. The owner of the house where I was staying explained to me that they concentrate their efforts in the areas where the problem is greatest.

    Having spent holidays on other Caribbean islands, I believe that the inspection and fumigation programme in Cuba is effective. You can read my thoughts on the subject here: http://talesoftheheroiccity.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/mosquitoes/

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