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'Don't moan, mobilise! Don't mourn, organise!' -- Zwelinzima Vavi's May Day message

May Day 2015 speech by Zwelinzima Vavi, Durban

May 1, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Today we march in concert with millions of workers all over the world to celebrate International Workers’ Day. We stand with workers in Greece, in Syria, in Bangladesh, in Argentina, in Zambia, in Canada and in every other country of the world to pronounce our determination to step up the struggle against exploitation and oppression. For while the global elite get richer and richer, the working class continues to be condemned to poverty.

In standing together against exploitation we also gather to celebrate our past victories. This includes the victory of the working class in South Africa in winning May 1 as a paid public holiday in 1994. This was not given to us on a plate. It was a struggle started in 1904, intensified in the 1980s, and finally won immediately after our first democratic election.

Cuba eradicates syphillis, HIV transmission to babies

A Cuban doctor examines a young patient at the health centre in the city of Jiquitaia in the state of Bahia, north-eastern Brazil.

For more on socialist Cuba's health gains, go to http://links.org.au/taxonomy/term/746

March 20, 2015 -- TeleSUR English via Portside, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) will visit Cuba soon to review if the country can be certified to have eliminated the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.

In order to receive the certification from the WHO, a country must have a transmission rate in less than 0.5 per cent of live births in the case of syphilis and less than 2 per cent in the case of HIV. Medical care for pregnant women and access to HIV tests must exceed 95 per cent and antiretroviral treatment must be available for 95 per cent of seropositive pregnant women.

Africa: How the IMF worsens the Ebola crisis

Cuban doctors on their way to help with the Ebola outbreak.

By Jérôme Duval, translated by John Catalinotto

February 6, 2015 -- Committee ofr the Abolition of Third World Debt, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) claims it is part of the solution, the IMF is really part of the problem of underdevelopment and has been for decades. The latest proof of this is that the conditions imposed on countries in need have had serious impacts on the development of these countries’ public health services. In some countries this means letting epidemics destroy the lives of thousands of people. The latest example involves the Ebola epidemic.

The IMF is responsible for serious restrictions at this time in developing adequate healthcare systems

Eyewitness Greece: Solidarity in action -- a visit to a Solidarity4All clinic

Volunteers at Solidarity Clinic in Peristeri.

By Vivian Messimeris, Athens

January 25, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Vivian Messimeris is part of the Green Left Weekly and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal team covering the January 25 election in Greece. You can read more of team's eyewitness coverage of Greece HERE and HERE.

* * *

 

Today we visited one of the solidarity clinics that operates in the suburb of Peristeri. We met with some of the volunteers that work in the clinic that included two doctors as well as other activists. The clinic is staffed by 60 volunteers, including 20 doctors, and offers free medical consultations and pharmaceuticals.

Peristeri is largely a working class suburb of 400,000 people and is located in west Athens, which has a population of 1 million. Before the economic crisis most residents worked in blue-collar industry or were self-employed in small businesses.

Ebola crisis: Cuba shows the world how it is done

By Rupen Savoulian

November 24, 2014 -- Antipodean Atheist, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Margaret Chan, was speaking about the terrible crisis afflicting the poor West African countries Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, namely, the growing outbreak of the Ebola virus disease. This condition is a fatal disease, transmitted from undomesticated animals to people, and is transmitted by contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.

Ebola epidemic exposes the sickness of the global economic and political system

An awareness campaign against Ebola in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, September 25, 2014.

By the Peoples Health Movement

November 2014 -- PHM Global News, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On August 8, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern". The declaration came four months after the WHO reported a major Ebola outbreak in Guinea in West African. The epidemic broke in Guinea and spread to three of its neighbours – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The cumulative number of cases and deaths as at November 12 stood at more than 13,000 cases and 5160 deaths. Most public health experts agree that the official figures are a major underestimation of the extent and spread of the disease.

Cuba: Teaching the world about containing Ebola

Havana took up the challenge by hosting a special Summit on Ebola with its regional partners and global health authorities on October 20.

By Conner Gorry, Havana

October 24, 2014 -- Guardian Professional -- West Africa needs what Cuba has: a well-trained, coordinated healthcare system. Anything less and Ebola wins.

Deadly consequences of continued production of industrial chemicals

By Coral Wynter

The central problem of our age has therefore become the contamination of man’s total environment with such substances of incredible potential for harm—substances that accumulate in the tissue of plants and animals and even penetrate the germ cells to shatter or alter the very material of heredity upon which the shape of the future depends. -- Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962

May 22, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There is an epidemic of diseases now sweeping the industrialised countries. These include obesity, diabetes type 2, high infertility rates affecting both men and women, high blood pressure, thyroid and central nervous system as well as cancers, mainly breast and prostate cancers. In addition to all of this, immune deficiencies.

Spain: Si, se puede! ‘White tide’ defeats Madrid health privatisation plan

By Dick Nichols

February 1, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- Victories in the never-ending struggle against the sell-off of public services in southern Europe are rare. So when one comes along that is as big as the recent defeat of the Madrid regional government’s scheme to privatise hospital and community health-centre management we should celebrate it to the full.

Cuba's unsung medical training helps develop Timor Leste and Pacific island countries

August 3, 2013 -- Australia-Cuba Friendship Society -- Excerpts from some longer documentaries by Tim Anderson on Cuban health cooperation with Timor Leste, Vanuatu, Nauru and the Solomon Islands. Also a short excerpt from Nauru Television. For more on Cuba's health system and its assistance to other countries, click HERE.

Green Party USA: Economic/ecological crises of the 21st century -- A deep green alternative

Document of the Greens/Green Party USA, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Don Fitz, national committee member of the Greens/Green Party USA. It is posted in the interests of discussion.

July 22, 2013 -- Why should we work longer hours in order to …

  • put our neighbours out of work,
  • produce fall-apart products that poison our children and grandchildren, and
  • have less time to enjoy life?

People are losing their jobs and homes. Many throughout the world are without food, medical care and transportation. Instead of addressing real needs, governments and international financial institutions are designing “austerity programs” that cut back on basic services and privatise everything from education and mail delivery to pension plans and public health.

Simultaneously, climate change intensifies before our eyes as summers warm, droughts expand, polar ice caps melt, and those who live in coastal areas are threatened by rising waters. This occurs amid heightened use of radioactive and other toxic chemicals, the destruction of biodiversity and a drive to pull the last resources out of the Earth so that nothing will be left to future generations.

South Africa: Treatment Action Campaign turns 14

For more on the Treatment Action Campaign, click HERE.

December 10, 2012 -- TAC Electronic newsletter -- The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) was launched on December 10, 1998, the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. TAC turns 14 years old on international human rights day. This birthday comes at a time where many celebrate the good progress made with regards to expanded access to antiretrovirus medicines (ARVs), but its not yet uhuru [liberation]. This does not mean the war against HIV and AIDS is over as many of us tend to forget where we come from and much focus is still needed on the road ahead. Many global leaders have started to reverse their commitment to see this struggle through and get to the zero-infection, zero-deaths and zero-discrimination target.

TAC campaigns for the realisation of the right to health including socioeconomic rights and the right to equality for poor people. Our main focus is the right to access quality health care that includes access to life-saving HIV treatment enshrined in the South Africa constitution. Between 1998 to 2012 TAC has created a profile as an organisation that fights for the realisation of the right to health for poor people living with HIV.

Why is Cuba’s health-care system the best model for poor countries?

Cuba-trained medical student examines Peruvian child, Lima, Peru, December 2010. Photo by Don Fitz.

[Read more about Cuba's health-care system and its international health-care solidarity HERE.]

By Don Fitz

December 8, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Furious though it may be, the current debate over health care in the US is largely irrelevant to charting a path for the poor countries of Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific Islands. That is because the US squanders perhaps 10 to 20 times what is needed for a good, affordable medical system. The waste is far more than the 30% overhead by private insurance companies. It includes an enormous amount of over-treatment, making the poor sicker by refusing them treatment, exorbitant over-pricing of medications and medical procedures, creation of illnesses, exposure to contagion through over-hospitalisation, and disease-focused instead of prevention-focused research.[1]

Poor countries simply cannot afford such a health system. Well over 100 countries are looking to the example of Cuba, which has the same 78-year life expectancy of the US while spending 4% per person annually of what the US does.[2]

Cuba's internationalism: 11,000 doctors graduate; 5315 Cuban and 5694 from 59 other countries

By José A. de la Osa, Havana

July 19, 2012 -- Granma.cu -- This July, 11,000 students are to receive their degrees as doctors of medicine; 5315 Cubans and 5694 students from 59 other countries, the highest total in the history of Cuba and an eloquent example of internationalist solidarity. These young graduates completed their studies free of charge in Medical Science Universities recognised for their high scientific level and social commitment to the poorest in the world.

Countries with the largest number of graduates are Bolivia, with more than 2400; Nicaragua, 429; Peru, 453; Ecuador, 308; Guatemala, 170; and Colombia, 175.

According to information given to Granma by the Advanced Medical Studies Department attached to the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), the total of this year’s graduates amounts to 32,171 health professionals, both Cuban and from other countries, including the careers of medicine, dentistry, psychology, nursing and health technology, which has 21 units.

Eyewitness Cuba: March Against Homophobia celebrates new outlook

Dancing at March Against Homophobia, Cienfuegos, Cuba, May 17, 2012. Photo by Don Fitz.

[See also "Rainbow Cuba: the sexual revolution within the revolution".]

By Don Fitz and Jacquelyn Omotalade, Cienfuegos, Cuba

May 28, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “This discussion has changed my mind about homosexuality. Now I understand what my lesbian friend went through. When she graduated from medical school in Cuba, she cried. She told me that she could live her life the way she wanted to when she was in Cuba. But now she would return to Honduras as a doctor and would have to hide her lifestyle, hide who she is”.

These were the words of a young woman wearing the medical school bata (white shirt) who identified herself as Honduran. The Honduran medical student spoke at an open forum that was part of the International Day Against Homophobia (May 17, 2012) in Cienfuegos, Cuba. The forum featured Mariela Castro, who is director of the National Sex Education Center and daughter of Cuba’s President Raul Castro.

Afghanistan: Amnesty International lauds war and occupation as 'progress' for women


The bitter reality for Afghan women: an address by Malalai Joya.

By Tim Anderson

May 20, 2012 -- Stop the War Coalition, Sydney -- Amnesty International has muddied the waters over the occupation of Afghanistan with its latest campaign urging NATO to “keep the progress going” on women’s rights. The campaign was aimed at a NATO summit in Chicago and drew on one of the few remaining arguments for continued military occupation of that war-ravaged country.

The idea that a military occupation would somehow help Afghan women was promoted by Laura Bush, wife of the former US president who ordered the October 2001 invasion. It is an argument that been rejected by the Afghan women’s group, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and by activist and former Afghan MP Malalai Joya (see video above). They say that the NATO occupation has simply added a third enemy, on top of the Taliban and the NATO-backed warlords.

How Cuba mobilises to defeat public health emergencies

Medical students in Cuba.

[Read more about Cuba's health-care system HERE.]

By Don Fitz

February 8, 2012 -- Submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author, having first appeared at BlackAgendaReport.com -- “I’m on pesquizaje”, my daughter Rebecca told me. “All of the third, fourth and fifth year medical students at Allende have our classes suspended. We are going door-to-door looking for symptoms of dengue fever and checking for standing water.”[1]

As a fourth year medical student at Cuba’s ELAM (Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina, Latin American School of Medicine in Havana), she is assigned to Salvadore Allende Hospital in Havana. It handles most of the city’s dengue cases. Although she has done health canvassing before, this is the first time she has had classes cancelled to do it. It is very unusual for an outbreak of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness, to occur this late in the season. She remembers most outbreaks happening in autumn, being over before December, and certainly not going into January–February.

East Timor celebrates medical milestone, with Cuba's assistance

By Lisa Zilberpriver 

December 27, 2011 -- SBS (Special Broadcasting Service, Australia) -- Cuba is widely regarded as a world leader in medical outreach programs for developing nations. It began by sending doctors to support Algerian revolutionaries in 1963, and has since extended its programme to encompass more than 100 different countries.

There are more than 30,000 Cuban health workers stationed worldwide. The Cuban government also pays for the education of thousands of students from developing nations at the Latin American School of Medicine.

Tim Anderson is a senior lecturer in political economy at the Univeristy of Sydney. He has closely followed Cuba's medical outreach programs for several years. He hosted an East Timorese graduate of Cuba's program on a visit to Sydney health institutions in October that was organised by the Australia Cuba Friendship Society.

Interview: Cuba's health-care miracle in Haiti

Dr Jorge Balseiro Estevez, of the Henry Reeve Cuban Internationalist Medical Brigade, interviewed by Roger Annis

October 30, 2011 -- Canada Haiti Action Network -- Dr Jorge Balseiro Estevez is director of the University Hospital of Psychiatry in the city of Camaguey, Cuba. He is a specialist in psychiatry and health administration and auxiliary professor of medical sciences at the university. He is a member of the Henry Reeve Cuban Internationalist Medical Brigade[1] and a director of the brigade’s field hospital in the city of Leogâne, Haiti. Leogane was the epicentre of the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Estevez was invited to Canada on a speaking tour to some 15 cities across Canada in October and November 2011. The tour was organised by the Canadian Network on Cuba and its local affiliates, with sponsorship from a broad range of trade unions, health professionals and Haiti solidarity groups.

Roger Annis of the Canada Haiti Action Network sat down with Estevez on October 30 in Vancouver for an interview about the Cuban medical mission’s accomplishments in Haiti and the challenges that lie ahead.

Revolutionary health care in Cuba and Venezuela: Beyond Western 'sickness-based' medicine

Monthly Review Press has kindly given permission to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to publish an excerpt from Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care by Steve Brouwer. You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen HERE.

Readers of Links are also urged to purchase copies of Revolutionary Doctors. Those in Australia can order copies from Resistance Books; in other parts of the world, please click HERE to order.

Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care
By Steve Brouwer
New York, Monthly Review Press, 2011, 245 pp.

Review by Don Fitz

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