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By Don Fitz
June 5, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Monthly Review with the author’s permission -- Stories of Cuban medical accomplishments often note that half of the country’s 6,000 doctors had left by 1963. But just as professionals were forsaking their homeland en masse for the comforts of Miami, 3,000 doctors chose to stay. Why did they remain? More important, the number of patients per doctor now doubled, how did they face the daunting task of transforming medicine? In addition to treating patients, their goals included expanding medical care to rural regions; increasing medical education to replace doctors who had left; making care preventive, community-oriented, and focused on tropical diseases; and redesigning a fractured and non-cohesive health system. Exploring changes during this transformative period in Cuban health care requires examining sources available in Cuba, as well as studying oral histories of Cuban physicians who lived during the revolution.
A Cuban literacy program operating in an Aboriginal community in Wilcannia, NSW.
June 15, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, post at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Kenia Serrano, president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and a member of Cuba's National Assembly, attended the recent national consultation of the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society. Green Left Weekly's Denis Rogatyuk spoke with her about recent developments of the Cuban Revolution.
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Cuba has just been removed from the list of state-sponsors of terrorism. How do you think this will affect Cuba’s relations with the United States?
First of all, there is no reason to have Cuba on such a list. We should have never been there. However, the US decided to do this back in 1992. On May 29, the removal was approved.
We consider this a very positive step in eliminating the different obstacles to forging stable bilateral relations with the US.
President Raúl Castro Ruz thanked the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean for their solidarity.
By Raúl Castro Ruz, president of Cuba
[Council of State transcript of Castro's speech to the Summit of the Americas in Panama.]
April 14, 2015 -- Granma, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It was high time I spoke here on behalf of Cuba. I was told at first that I could make an eight-minute speech; although I made a great effort, along with my foreign minister, to reduce it to eight minutes, and as I’m owed six summits from which we were excluded, six times eight, 48 (laughter and applause), I asked President Juan Carlos Varela [of Panama] a few moments before entering this magnificent hall, to allow me a few minutes more, especially after we have been hearing so many interesting speeches, and I am not only referring to that of President Obama, but also that of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, President Dilma Rousseff and others.
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.
Important achievements in earthquake rehabilitation were achieved with the public health initiatives taken by Haiti's Ministry of Public Health in cooperation with large international missions and many smaller, vital health care projects. The contributions of Cuba and Partners In Health stood out.
For more on Haiti, click HERE.
By Travis Ross and Roger Annis
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.
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.
Doctors from all over the Third World are trained for free at the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, which is one of the world’s most advanced medical schools.
By Ségolène Allemandou
September 22, 2014 -- France 24 -- Cuba is joining the fight against Ebola by sending a 165-strong army of doctors and specialists to West Africa. Despite decades of financial hardship, the communist country remains at the forefront of the world’s medical expertise and know-how.
The team, which includes doctors, nurses, epidemiologists and intensive care specialists, is due to touch down in Sierra Leone in the beginning of October.
[See also Chris Slee's free pamphlet Cuba -- How the workers and peasants made the revolution and "System or siege? Samuel Farber misses the main cause of Cuba's problems", Slee's review of Farber's book Cuba since the revolution of 1959: a critical assessment.]
By Chris Slee
January 21, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Samuel Farber has recently written an article on “The Future of the Cuban Revolution”. This article contains some useful information on “the emergence of new tendencies and debates” in Cuba. But Farber’s article is fundamentally flawed. It contains not a single word about the 55-year-long campaign by the United States government to overturn the Cuban revolution!
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.
Cuba-trained medical student examines Peruvian child, Lima, Peru, December 2010. Photo by Don Fitz.
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.
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.
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.
Dancing at March Against Homophobia, Cienfuegos, Cuba, May 17, 2012. Photo by Don Fitz.
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.
Medical students in Cuba.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
Excerpt from 'Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care'
July 19, 2011 -- Monthly Review Press has kindly given permission to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to publish an excerpt from one of their latest books, 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 below.
Readers of Links are also urged to purchase copies of Revolutionary Doctors; click HERE to order.
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“We are one people who share a common history of struggle.” — Cassandra Cusack Curbelo, second-year ELAM student
By Don Fitz
May 18, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an earlier version of this article first appeared at Monthly Review in March -- A revolution can only be successful when the new generation takes over from the old. When thousands of students come together because of their dedication to helping others at a school that was built to allow them to fulfill their goals, the ground is fertile for students to continue the struggle.