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The Truth About Cuba’s Health Care

The truth about medical care in CubaIs Cuba a Medical Powerhouse or Is It Just a Political Slogan?

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According to Castro's political propaganda, Cuba has very important achievements in the medical field, but the reality is totally different in the vaunted "medical powerhouse" in the broadest sense of the term. Allow me to explain this sad reality in more detail:

The vaunted "medical power" in the broadest sense of the term.

  • They claim to have a universal public health system of accessible quality and "free for all" its citizens, with health indicators comparable to developed nations and in some indices such as infant mortality better than the United States and Canada. We will see later how they manipulate the statistics.
  • They have trained tens of thousands of doctors, not only Cubans but also foreigners in their University of Medical Sciences. Yes it is true and it is their most potent weapon of propaganda, manipulation and indoctrination to influence and interfere in the politics of other countries.
  • They have trained tens of thousands of doctors, not only Cubans but also foreigners in their University of Medical Sciences.
  • Their internationalist medical brigades have served in numerous countries, yes especially in those countries that use the White Coat slaves exported by the Castro dictatorship and pay the regime without considering that the salary they receive is miserable by confiscating between 75% and 80%. In addition, the number of doctors exported as slaves has deteriorated the already precarious primary health care received by Cuban citizens.
  • They have some biomedical research centres such as the Finlay Institute and the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, to back up their propaganda about the fake Cuban Medical Power at any cost despite the shortages and scarcity of resources and supplies in most hospitals and clinics on the island, along with the deterioration and closure of hospitals, clinics and offices of the "Family Doctors"

Are Medical Services in Cuba Really Free?

One of the biggest lies promoted by the dictatorship in Cuba is that it claims to have a health system superior to those of developed countries, since according to political propaganda the national public health system is a system of universal quality, free and available to all, but the reality is that for ordinary Cubans there is only a rudimentary system in very poor hygienic conditions and with a great shortage of medical supplies and equipment, as well as a total absence of even basic medicines. However, there are quality medical services, especially free of charge for Cuba's ruling elite and their families, in private medical centres that must be paid for in dollars, and which are only available to foreigners and/or Cuban residents abroad.

The most notable examples are the Cira García Central Clinic in Havana, which is a case in point. This is a health institution primarily intended to serve Cubans living abroad and foreigners, which provides services for payment in foreign currency (dollars, euros, etc.).

Other similar examples are clinics such as CIMEX, Miramar, Siboney and some services offered in certain hospitals such as Ponce, CIREN and Juan Manuel Márquez. These centres charge fees, often high, for treatments, interventions, analyses and other types of medical care.

It is therefore incorrect to say that all health services in Cuba are completely free. For Cuban citizens residing on the island, the very poor basic care is free of charge, but there is a parallel sector of paid medical services, especially for Cubans abroad and foreigners.

Is the Lack of Hygiene in Cuban Hospitals the Fault of the Embargo?

The lack of hygiene and poor conditions in the vast majority of public hospitals in Cuba cannot be attributed to the US embargo. It is a multifactorial problem with several elements to consider:

It is a multi-factorial problem with several elements to consider:

Obsolete infrastructure and lack of maintenance: Many hospitals have old facilities, with a lack of investment for modernisation and repair. This makes it difficult to maintain adequate levels of hygiene.

  • Shortage of health care facilities.
  • Lack of supplies and resources: There is a chronic shortage of cleaning materials, disinfectants, clean bed linen, gloves, among other basic implements for hospital hygiene. This is due to budgetary problems.
  • Precarious working conditions: Low salaries and poor working conditions for hospital staff such as nurses and cleaners have an impact on motivation and have caused many to leave the profession and seek jobs in tourist resorts, or to become self-employed in caring for the sick, disabled and elderly.
  • Low salaries and poor working conditions for hospital staff such as nurses and cleaners have an impact on motivation and have caused many to leave the profession and seek jobs in tourist resorts, or to become self-employed in caring for the sick, disabled and elderly.
  • Management and organisational shortcomings: Some critics point to administrative failures in inventory management, resource distribution and hygiene protocols in the medical centres.
  • General economic situation in the country: The shortages and limited resources affecting Cuba inevitably impact on the public hospital sector as well.

    To give just one example, I will take as a reference the opinion of a woman from Holguin that was published in Diario de Cuba

    "Although it should be the opposite, in this country a hospital is possibly the most unhealthy place there is," says Georgina, an elderly Holguinera who suffers from type 2 diabetes and has lymphangitis in her right foot. "There are supposed to be hygienic conditions there, but no,you feel that your health and life are in danger when you are admitted to a hospital, so filthy is everything. That's why people try not to go to the hospital until the last minute," he criticises.

    Although the dictatorship accuses the embargo of imposing restrictions on access to certain medical supplies and equipment, it is not the main cause of the hygiene problems in Cuban hospitals, according to experts. There are internal structural, organisational and economic factors that the Cuban government must address and resolve in order to improve this precarious situation that affects the health of the Cuban population.

     

     Can Cuba’s Infant Mortality Rates Be Trusted?

    It is a valid concern to question the reliability of infant mortality statistics reported by Cuba's Castro-communist dictatorship, given accusations that the government manipulates the data to show better indicators.

    It is a valid concern to question the reliability of infant mortality statistics reported by Cuba's Castro-communist dictatorship, given accusations that the government manipulates the data to show better indicators.

    Some international organisations and independent experts have expressed doubts about the methods used by Cuba to record infant deaths. Specifically, it has been reported that in some cases babies who are born alive but die soon after are improperly registered as "late foetal deaths" rather than infant deaths.

    This practice distorts the real figures by excluding some deaths from the calculation of the infant mortality rate, making it appear artificially lower.

    They are also reported to be recorded as "late foetal deaths" instead of infant deaths.

    Additionally, the lack of access by independent external observers to primary data from medical records in Cuba makes it difficult to objectively verify the reported information.

    The lack of access by independent external observers to primary data from medical records in Cuba makes it difficult to objectively verify the reported information.

    On the other hand, organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) have tended to generally endorse the Cuban figures, which shows the deplorable political complicity of these organisations with the Castro dictatorship.

    They have also tended to support the Cuban figures, which shows the deplorable political complicity of these organisations with the Castro dictatorship.

    In short, there is an open debate on this sensitive issue. Although Cuba boasts extremely low infant mortality rates, the evidence for allegations of politically motivated statistical manipulation is irrefutable. Greater transparency and access to primary data by international bodies would be desirable to dismantle the false myths of Cuba's misnamed "Medical Power".

     

    Is Cuba's Public Health System of Quality, Accessible and Free for All: Reality or Propaganda?

    Inequalities in healthcare

    One could conclude that in Cuba the so-called quality, accessible and free public health system for all its citizens is a political slogan, since the difference is abysmal if we compare it with those received by members of the government and foreigners. The slogan of a quality, accessible and free public health system for all Cuban citizens is more a political and propagandistic slogan than a fully materialised reality. The complicity of international organisations such as the UN and the WHO in endorsing the falsehood of the Cuban communist regime's achievements in the field of health is alarming.

    The evidence points to profound inequalities and very marked gaps in the medical care received by different sectors of the Cuban population:

    1) While ordinary citizens depend on the deteriorated public network of hospitals and clinics with huge shortages of supplies, obsolete infrastructure and deplorable hygienic conditions, government elites and high-ranking officials enjoy higher quality and exclusive medical facilities and services.

    2) At the same time, there is a circuit of clinics and care paid for in foreign currency, mainly for foreigners and Cubans living abroad, where state-of-the-art treatments and technologies are offered at very high prices by local standards.

    3) There have been documented cases of medical tourism by wealthy foreigners who come to receive state-of-the-art care in Cuba, taking advantage of the price of paid services.

    4) In contrast, an ordinary Cuban with a serious illness often faces delays, lack of access to medicines and state-of-the-art technology, and even has to resort to the black or informal market to access certain treatments, as well as to bring his or her bedding, personal clothing, food and even medicines.

    In short, although the dictatorship in Cuba claims to provide free healthcare coverage, there are flagrant inequalities in the quality of care, depending on the ability to pay and social status. This calls into question the supposed universal, free and egalitarian nature of health care for all Cubans. To a large extent, this seems to be more of a political campaign than a tangible reality.

     
     

    Are Cuban Doctors Modern-Day Slaves?

    A lot of countries in the world have been forced to use Cuban doctors as modern-day slaves.

    Many countries, despite Castro's propaganda, have realised that Cuban doctors' programmes abroad and their so-called medical brigades of the International Contingent of Doctors, are really contingents of modern-day slaves, accusing them of labour exploitation and violations of the human and labour rights of health workers.

    Some of the main criticisms are poor working conditions, low salaries for doctors compared to what host countries pay, restrictions on movement and threats if they defect from the programme. It has been described in some cases as a modern form of "forced labour" or "human trafficking".

    Arguments for and against

    On the other hand, the Cuban dictatorship defends the programme as a way to provide medical assistance to countries with a shortage of health workers and as an important source of income for the Cuban economy. They claim that the professionals participate on a voluntary basis, although some prefer to work as slaves abroad rather than on the island, and for others it is a way of being able to emigrate to other countries if they can escape the medical missions and stop being slaves, knowing the dictatorship's measures against deserters and their families.

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