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Health Care in Cuba

The Cuban health care system is respected around the world, and is literally decades more advanced than any system found in Latin America.  For this reason, the Cuban system serves as a model for Third World developing nations.

Before the Revolution, most people could not afford proper medical care.  In the rural areas there were few doctors and in the big cities, only the upper classes could afford health care.

All of this has now changed.  Cuba has made excellent progress through its family doctor program.  Small towns all have doctors the people can visit for free.  Cuba now has one doctor per 200 citizens, compared to one per 400 in the US.  The doctors live in the buildings their offices are in and keep track of the histories and needs of all their patients.

Cuba stands out statistically as well.  Its infant mortality rate of 8/1,000 is second to none in Latin America, and is near that of the United States.  The life expectancy of the average Cuban is also far longer than that of people in any other Latin American country.

Cuba has an excellent medical education program.  It has 21 medical schools which graduate 4,000 doctors annually.  All education is free.  Before it lost Soviet aid, Cuba trained 20,000 students from Third World countries and required them to return to their own countries, where doctors are far more needed than in countries where they can command large salaries.

Doctors from Cuba are also sent to assist in poorer nations.  Cuba has sent its doctors to many African nations and has established hospitals in other countries.

The health situation has worsened without Soviet aid.  Cubans are getting far less to eat, which is bringing back old health problems.  When the Special Period was at its worst, the US passed the Torricelli Act, prohibiting medicine from being sold to Cuba.

America's blockade and the end of aid has caused severe shortages of medical supplies.  Everywhere doctors are improvising new methods of meeting the shortage, but Cuba not only cannot get foreign medicine, its need for dollars even forces it to sell much of its domestically produced medicine.

Cuba has a highly advanced biotechnology industry.  It is working on many important problems, such as finding a cure for AIDS.  However, the refusal of the US to allow Cuba to import many medicines it needs slows down research progress and hurts the local health care system.

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