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Cuban Healthcare Essay

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Healthcare in the Republic of Cuba
Carmen Sciandra
University of Scranton
HAD 506
May 13, 2013

In Cuba, patients’ medical records are still kept in a cardboard folder, they are simple and hand written. Internet access is virtually non-existent yet despite the limited technology, the Cuban system is surprisingly information-rich and focused on population health. Everything is free, and not after prior approval or some copay. Healthcare is tightly organized, and the first priority is prevention. Although Cuba has limited economic resources, its health care system has solved some problems that ours has not yet managed to address. The Cuban system is a highly structured, prevention-oriented system which has produced positive results. Vaccination rates in Cuba are among the highest in the world. The life expectancy of 78 years from birth is virtually identical ours here in the United States. The infant mortality rate in Cuba has fallen from more than 80 per 1000 live births in the 1950s to less than 5 per 1000 today, which is lower than the United States. Cubans are beginning to face the same health problems the developed world faces, with increasing rates of coronary disease, obesity and an aging population, over 11.7% of Cubans are now 65 years of age or older. Their unusual health care system addresses those problems in ways that grew out of Cuba’s political and economic history. So the question to ask, is this system that Cuban leaders have created a roadmap for other countries to follow?

A glance at Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is a socialist, sovereign and collective State. The country operates a national health system and assumes fiscal and administrative responsibility for the healthcare of all its citizens. Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and located in the western- most part of the Caribbean Sea. The population of Cuba is slightly over 11,000,000 with approximately 76 percent living in urban areas and is the most populous of the Caribbean islands.

Health and Development in Cuba
Social policy holds the State accountable for health and the beneficiaries are the citizens. Healthcare policies promote sustainable human development focusing on the objectives of greater well-being and a higher quality of life, primarily in the areas of health, education, culture, employment, safety, and social welfare. In the Cuban Socialist Constitution, health care is considered a right, guaranteed to every citizen. Medical care, along with food, clothing, housing, and education, is “of the highest priority” (Schwab, 1997).

The three leading causes of mortality are heart disease, malignant neoplasms, and cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease, which account for 58 percent of deaths. The changes in the country’s mortality profile have most benefited Cuba’s children. Mortality in children under 5 has declined markedly and steadily, and at a rate of 8/1000 live births. Infant mortality, is 5.3/1000 live births. Cuba has the same 78-year life expectancy of the United States while spending 4% per person annually of what the United States spends (Le...

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