Friday, 8 May 2015

Cuba: Al Jazeera report on Cuba's health professionals

More than anything else perhaps, we were struck by the resilience, the ingenuity, the tenacity of Cubans.  While one noun should ordinarily suffice, three do not seem excessive in this case.  And that old adage springs to mind: in Cuba necessity truly is the mother of invention.

According to a report by Robert Kennedy for Al Jazeera, this is as true in Cuba's Healthcare system as anywhere else.  It makes fascinating reading.  I find it difficult to imagine my own doctor sucking fluid from my lungs with his mouth.  But then he wouldn't have to.

Healthcare is free at the point of delivery in Cuba, although, as our new friend Alexis was keen to point out to us, it is paid for in taxes, the equivalent of our National Insurance in the UK.  It is, according to him, a common misconception that Cubans pay nothing at all.

Potential life savers though they might be, medical professionals are paid the 'basic' government wage of $30 a month: a staggeringly small amount by our standards.  It goes a lot further in Cuba, but still, I have read of the need to moonlight as taxi drivers, waiters etc. to make ends meet.

Still, for all that, Cuba, it seems, has a robust health system with highly trained and very caring professionals.  According to Robert Kennedy, Cuba provided more doctors and nurses to help cope with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa than any other country.  And he quotes Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, "They are always the first to arrive and the last to leave."      

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