WE do not believe that the health care system developed in Cuba should be replicated in other countries, says Cuban foreign minister Bruno Parrilla Rodriguez.
During the launch of the Medicc Magazine, Rodriguez said the Cuban experience helps to illustrate some concepts and practices of undeniable achievements that, if adapted to the realities of each society, would offer significant improvements in health indicators, particularly in developing countries.
He said with all the current scientific progress and the immense accumulated wealth, half of the world’s 7.3 billion inhabitants remain without basic health services.
Rodriguez said of the 60 million deaths in 2016, 54 per cent were caused by the ten main curable diseases.
“This year alone, according to the World Health Organisation, 5.6 million children will die before reaching the age of five. That is equivalent to 15,000 deaths every day. In this very country, the most economically and technologically powerful that has ever existed, 28 million people lack medical insurance, in other words, they are deprived from real access to health care; while the political class still debates without answer in search of a solution,” he said
“It is a drama that does not need to be and that, in our opinion, has no justification. It is also a situation that contrasts with the Cuban reality, which, in a very humble way, we are ready to share. Our experience rests on the notion that access to health care for all is a human right, and that guaranteeing such access is an obligation of all States when and if there is a minimum sense of social justice.”
Rodriguez said in Cubans’ case, that obligation is written in the constitution.
He said only with an honest commitment and a firm political will from the government can a relatively small country, with limited natural resources and wealth, and suffering a brutal economic blockade, reach the remarkable health indicators that the world today celebrates.
“It is the only way to achieve the quality of universal health coverage acknowledged by Medicc in the issue being launched today, one that guarantees levels of wellbeing and health indicators for our citizens comparable to the richest and most advanced societies in the world,” he said.
“The policies that have allowed us to reach these results are the following: the creation of a single public health care system that is free, accessible and universal; an economic order that provides the State with the required resources for health programmes; the capability to train and mobilise the needed human resources, and social cohesion around these policies at community levels.”
Rodriguez said the strength of the system stands on three pillars: first, the promotion of health and the prevention of diseases; second, a robust strategy of primary care, and, third, training programmes for qualified personnel with professional talent and ethical convictions of social commitment.
He said for Cuba’s public health system, citizens were not clients but patients or healthy individuals whose wellbeing must be protected and promoted with prevention approaches.
“That is why the curative role of the doctor, the clinics and the hospitals are not enough. They are only part of the equation. Science, education, the protection of the environment and social stability play a fundamental role in the development and guarantee of the nation’s health condition,” he said.
“We do not believe that the health care system developed in Cuba should be replicated in other countries. Probably it would not be possible. But the Cuban experience does help to illustrate some concepts and practices of undeniable achievements that, if adapted to the realities of each society, would offer significant improvements in health indicators, particularly in developing countries.”
Rodriguez said an additional and defining factor at the root of Cuba’s health care system is solidarity.
He said without it, it would not be possible to explain the willingness of several generations of health professionals and technicians to go and deliver health services in any corner of its national territory, to cover any community, regardless of how remote and regardless of the hardships they would encounter.
He said without an embedded notion of solidarity, it would be even more difficult to explain the willingness of Cuban qualified health personnel to deliver health care in other parts of the world.
“Over 400,000 of them have done so in the past few decades and many thousands still do, away from their homeland, involved on most occasions with the poorest communities in developing countries on the basis of bilateral inter-governmental cooperation agreements. Today, they are present in over 70 countries,” Rodriguez said.
“Cuba’s international health cooperation of the past 60 years has benefitted millions of people in 164 countries. It is an endeavour clearly in line with the patterns of South-South cooperation that the United Nations has been promoting since the 1970s. In spite of the efforts to discredit this contribution and of the slanderous allegations against it, it is a cooperation praised and acknowledged by the international community. It is appreciated by the people that have benefited and that have enjoyed its valuable impact. It is an effort of which we feel very proud. We live in a world that spends incalculable resources in the development of weapons, in the promotion of wars and in fostering patterns of consumption for the very few that are depleting the sources of life on Earth.”
He said with a fraction of those resources, with a little less greed and a minimum of solidarity, the health problems that are condemning important parts of the world population could be addressed.
“Learning how to do it is very important. It will require creativity and humility. But what is essential, is to mobilise the moral will that can deliver political action,” said Rodriguez.