How Cuba is Revolutionizing Global Health Care

Salud! : What Puts Cuba on the Map in the Quest for Global Health

Connie Field (2009)

Film Review

Salud! Is about the global struggle to overcome health inequality and the vital role Cuba plays in this effort. Filmmaker Connie Field is totally open about her perspective that that health car is a basic right and not a commodity, as it’s viewed in the US.

In pre-revolutionary Cuba, only a small wealthy elite had access to health care. The poor, who comprised 90-90% of the population, died in droves of treatable conditions, such as malaria, respiratory infection, parasites and infantile diarrheal infections.

The Castro regime responded to this health crisis by training tens of thousands of doctors. At present, Cuba has 60,000 doctors for a population of 11 million, making their health system one of the best resourced in the world.

Ending Diseases of Poverty Worldwide

Cuba has been extremely generous in sharing this resource with other poor countries, especially in Africa and Latin America. Since 1963, over 100,000 Cuban health professionals have worked overseas. As well as performing direct patient care, they also train foreign health care professionals.

The film profiles their work in South Africa, Gambia, Honduras and Venezuela. In all four countries, the Cuban doctors have helped local health professionals establish community-based health delivery systems that focus on health promotion and disease prevention. This contrasts to health care in the industrialized north, which waits for patients to get sick and fights one illness at a time.

Cubans Healthier than Americans

Thanks to their phenomenal workforce and this common sense approach, Cuba is one of the few developing countries that has virtually eradicated malaria. Moreover Cubans experience better overall all health status than Americans. On average, Cubans live longer: 79.07 years compared to 78.74 years for Americans. Cuba also has a lower infant mortality (4.70 per 1,000 live births) than the US (6.2 per 1,000 live births).

In Honduras and Venezuela, Cuban doctors have played an essential role in setting up clinics in barrios and rural areas that are poorly served by Honduran and Venezuelan doctors – both for financial (their barrio patients can’t afford to pay them) and “lifestyle” reasons. Despite their refusal to serve these communities, local doctors responded to the presence of Cuban doctors with mass protests claiming the Cuban medics were threatening their livelihood.

Free Medical Education for International Students

In 1999, Cuba set up the Latin American Medical School, which offers free medical training to low income students from all over the world. In collaboration with the Congressional Black Caucus, they have also opened this medical school to African and Hispanic students from low income US communities.

22 thoughts on “How Cuba is Revolutionizing Global Health Care

    • Thanks, Gerard. As far as I can see, Cuba is the only institution providing significant pushback against the global insurance industry and Big Pharma. They haven’t begin content to merely ruin health care in the US. They’re also actively seeking to privatize by stealth the national health systems of other industrialized countries. This is really clear in English-speaking countries like the UK, NZ and Australia.

      After privatizing significant portions of NZ’s health service, are former Health Minister Tony Ryall has moved over to become a director at a start-up health insurance company called NIB: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1502/S00353/nib-appoints-tony-ryall-to-nz-board.htm

      In my mind this is the worst kind of corporate corruption. It boggles the mind that this stuff isn’t illegal.

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    • I particularly like their emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention. This is the only approach that makes any sense for the overall welfare of the community – the US medical system has been giving lip service to health promotion and disease prevention since I was in medical school. It doesn’t happen for the simple reason that insurance companies won’t pay for it.

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  1. Isn’t it amazing? The evil communist, Fidel Castro, in the end, turns out to be the savior of his people, while the true evil, 90 miles north, turns out to be the devil incarnate and going to hell quickly!

    Again, I love it! Everyday, this fraud I live in is exposed by the good being done by its “enemies” in Cuba and other places around the world. As I’ve said before, truth is like life, it finds a way to survive, be exposed and thrive!

    I have posted a few articles on the medical breakthroughs of the Cubans, and I will be posting this as well!

    Bravo and Brava, to the Cuban people and their government!

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    • He isn’t just saving Cuba, sojourner. His willingness to share medical expertise with other third world countries is playing a major role in rapid development in Africa and Latin America. The disease of poverty (malaria, AIDS, diarrhea, etc) are often the number one barrier to development.

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      • Yes, I didn’t add this in my comment. In the articles I posted, they mention this very fact. I realize that Cuba is doing this good for more than just Cubans.

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  2. Reblogged this on An Outsider's Sojourn II and commented:
    Here, Mr and Ms Merica, is the beneficial results of that “evil” communist country, Cuba, we were all warned about as indoctrinated children.

    What we didn’t know was, we were the ones living in an evil country, a corporate capitalist country!

    Look to Havana, Mr and Ms Merica, if you want to see a government that cares for its people and others!

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  3. Actually I mentioned this, in passing, in my reblog:

    “Look to Havana, Mr and Ms Merica, if you want to see a government that cares for its people and others!”

    Anyway, the point is, Cuba is a bright light shining in this darkness!

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  4. Saw this documentary some years ago. It certainly underscores the chasm in values between Cuban medicine and its ‘for profit’ counterparts. Proof that it is possible to create genuine communities who prize human welfare more highly than profits. In this respect, Cuba is definitely an example to be emulated.

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  5. The politicization of health care in the U.S. has reached this absurd point: The State Department classifies Cuba’s sending of doctors around the world as “forced labor” and uses this as a justification to place Cuba in the worst tier of human traffickers! http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/16/us-set-to-upgrade-cuba-status-in-annual-trafficking-in-persons-report. How dare Cuba offer people health care!

    The success of the health care system in Cuba is all the more remarkable in light of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, which makes no exceptions for health care products. For example, in 1994, the only major non-U.S. pacemaker in the world was sold to a U.S. company on condition that sales to Cuba would be discontinued. http://www.nycbigcitylit.com/aug2002/contents/articledolack.html.

    This is what happens when health care is a privilege controlled by corporations (as in the U.S.) instead of a human right.

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    • Thanks for your comment, SD, and the link on human trafficking. I had no idea. I see more and more evidence that the US will label any symptoms of genuine democracy as a crime if it interferes with monopoly capitalism.

      As they point out in the film, a number of foreign countries had no problem breaking the US embargo when it came to medical supplies and equipment. In the end, this is where Cuba obtained most of their drugs and medical equipment – from countries who had procured them from the US.

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  6. Pingback: How Cuba is Revolutionizing Global Health Care: Film and Review | Tales from the Conspiratum

  7. Reblogged this on 1EarthUnited and commented:
    Thanks so much for shining light on this inconvenient truth. For profit capitalism is antithetical to proficient health care, it marginalizes the poor and is inherently a conflict of interest b/c a healthy population is bad for corporate profits. I would venture to state that there is no literal “health care” in the west, it’s managed sick-care with Big Pharma drugs and sky high insurance premiums.

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