25 02 2011


I got a glimpse this week of how the health service works here. My friend’s sister had developed a nasty and persistent cough. Yesterday she decided to go along to the local polyclinic to get it looked at. In less than an hour she had been seen by a doctor, had a chest x-ray, been diagnosed with bronchitis, prescribed antibiotics and cough medicine and advised to rest for a week. She collected the medication at the local pharmacy.

I would not receive such good treatment at home in England. When I recently sought an urgent appointment at my doctor’s surgery, I was advised that none was available for a couple of days. If I was to attend the accident and emergency department at my local hospital, I am not sure that they would see me for a persistent cough, or if they would refer me back to my doctor’s. If they did see me, I would wait much longer than one hour.

For a developing country that has had to suffer the US–imposed economic blockade for half a century, to maintain this level of healthcare is remarkable.

I am aware that not everything is wonderful in the Cuban healthcare system. When my friend’s elderly neighbour was admitted to hospital for a stroke last year, her family stayed by her side at all times, because they were not confident in the nursing care that would be provided. They also took sheets, towels and food for her. I know a foreign exchange student of psychology who visited a local psychiatric hospital here and was not impressed with the conditions there. I am also aware of the scandal in a Havana psychiatric hospital last year when several patients died during a cold spell. The media here has reported that the prosecution are seeking lengthy jail terms for the directors of the hospital. For their role in the patients’ neglect.

However, primary healthcare here seems to me to be excellent. The results can be seen in Cuba’s figures for life expectancy and infant mortality. Cuban doctors and nurses are also working and saving lives in developing countries in Africa and Latin America. Healthcare is truly one of the gains of the 1959 revolution that it is essential to preserve.



One response

4 03 2011

Hola. Im glad to hear you had such a good experience! They’re not all like that as you mention, but on the whole, having covered the Cuban health system as a journalist here since 2004, Id have to say Cuba is doing a helluva job.

I encourage your readers who want to learn more to visit:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: