Healthcare is one aspect of social service that every country ought to prioritize to enable their citizens to enjoy life in the most secure setting. Its provision is highly dependent on government regulations and international guidelines.
Cuba being a socialist system has managed to operate a national health system that takes responsibility of administration and finance of health care for its citizens. Non-profit hospitals or clinics are allowed to operate. True enough; history proclaims Cuba as having the third highest number of doctors per capita in Latin America with mortality rate amounting to the third lowest in the world before the Cuban Revolution.
However Cuba too suffered a series of failures in health care status especially in the 1960s and during the end of Soviet subsidies in 1991 plus the US embargo against them.
In fact, socialism and corruption worsened their health care system resulting to low pay of medical practitioners, poor facilities and equipments, and lack of essential drugs. Hence, Cuba’s non-profit health service provision, which might have been perceived as one of the best in the world, is not even overrated but deceptive.
The best illustration of an effective health care system is the description of its population statistics. Deaths due to poor health care for adults, setting statistical targets for infant mortality rate which forces doctors to abort whenever screening shows the production quotas are in danger, dilapidated hospitals and bleak conditions of health services are excluded in the profile of a healthy society; yet they do exist in Cuba.
There are reports on deliberate manipulation of health statistics, dehumanizing political intrusion and undemocratic acts since no one could refuse treatments or speak against medical malpractice in this recently admired nation in “Sicko” documentary by Michael Moore.
Discrimination too exists as foreign tourists who could afford higher fees thus creating a tourist apartheid and top officials of the Communist Party get better services than ordinary citizens while free of charge. Black markets are also present in Cuba for even the basic drugs like Aspirin and antibiotics that are not normally bought elsewhere. The lack of surgery facilities (e.g. latex gloves) made surgeons reuse them instead.
Are these the costs of free hospitalization and medical services? – a substandard quality. Doctors in Cuba are exported to Venezuela in exchange for oil supplies. The low supply of doctors is matched with low supply of medicines and facilities.
A patient has to bring his own bed sheets, towels, soap, food, etc. Perhaps a more honest documentary of Cuba’s health care system should reflect the costs of political freedom in a one-party state. Instead of extolling it as the achievement of the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, its weaknesses must be unraveled and unveiled so that humanitarian efforts could be extended.
Cuba’s health care system is far from perfect. It works for foreigners but fails tremendously for its own citizens. The best services, medical supplies, and doctors are reserved for the political elites and foreigners. Indeed, the misinterpretation of Cuba’s health care as non-profit and free failed to present the direct outcomes of a socialist economy that has been excluded from trade and liberalization. No documentary could be more successful than that which is supported by realities and is unafraid to critically assess them.
Boadle, Anthony. “Health Care in Cuba More Complicated than in Sicko.” Medicina Cubana. http://medicinacubana.blogspot.com/2007/06/health-care-in-cuba- more-complicated.html. “Health Care in Cuba”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Cuba “Health Care in Cuba: Myths and Realities”. Cuban American National Foundation. http://www.canf.org/Issues/medicalapartheid.htm