Cuba: A Doctor’s Office

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One of the most lauded aspects of the Cuban Revolution has been the free medical care the government provides. Michael Moore sung its praises in his film Sicko, for example.

Free medical care is something the U.S. should have figured out a long time ago and I applaud Cuba’s improvements despite its limited resources (usually because of the American embargo). Cuba is a poor country, with the average Cuban making just $20/month. I was shocked when I went to Cuba and learned that low figure. In addition, an increasing dependence on tourism money and international remittances has contributed to the growing income inequality.

Yet, according to the UN Human Development Report, Cubans have the same life expectancy as Americans. They have local doctors who know their patients personally and follow up with them in order to prevent illness. Ultimately, they are doing far better than most of the other poor Latin American countries. Those poor countries can learn a lot from Cuba.

There are many well-documented papers on health in Cuba, should you care to read in-depth on the subject.

When I was on my people to people trip in January, we visited a doctor’s office. Outside her office was this faded sign for the CDR, the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution:

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It is odd for me to see such a direct link between a medical professional and politics, as I can’t recall ever visiting a doctor in the U.S. or Norway who had his/her affiliation plastered on a sign at the entrance.

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As you can see behind me, the doctor had quite the shrine to Che in her office, along with photographs of both Castro brothers displayed everywhere. This was a bit odd because, though I saw many of Che, I saw very few photos of Fidel and Raul in Havana. This is a topic I will cover soon in a post on propaganda in Cuba.

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The waiting room of the doctor’s office was plastered with a number of informational posters and fliers. Here are a few of them, with the English translations of each.

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“The solution isn’t to ignore it…HIV exists”
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“Your health service is free…but it costs…”
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“Homosexuality isn’t dangerous. Homophobia is. Do not despise or ridicule a person because of his sexual orientation.”

I found the flier about homosexuality to be quite interesting because of the revolution’s past oppression of the LGBT community. If you haven’t seen it, Before Night Falls is a good film on the topic, starring Javier Bardem. The above flier could be a sign of the changing, more accepting views of the communist party, as explained well here.

Even though the health care system in Cuba has done an excellent job in many areas, the standards in the doctor’s office were not quite what I am used to. For example, check out the advanced filing system.

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I will let the rest of the images speak for themselves.

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3 Replies to “Cuba: A Doctor’s Office”

  1. I’ve seen similar things in my travels to Cuba. The sink looks gruesome but I think the staining is soot from burning the utensils in alcohol to sterilize them. The Doctors care very much for their patients, I’ve seen it first hand but when it comes to getting the medication needed it’s a horse of a different color, there is very little medicine around, sometimes not even anesthetics for surgery. I have sent medicine for so many years that I can’t even estimate the expense.

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