Solidarity is a way of life for the Cuban people and their elected government. Currently this solidarity in seen in the number of Cuban doctors and other medical professionals that are working in countries outside of Cuba. They number more than 50,000. They are providing services in 66 countries found in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. In Brazil there will be 11,430 by the end of March of this year. These medical personnel also serve to help the Cuban economy since they generate over $6 billion a year for the Cuban people from the compensation paid for their servicres. This amount is more than twice the $2.5 billion generated by tourism to the tropical island paradise.
One might think, “Well what about the medical needs in Cuba?” A fair question. Roberto Morales, the minister of health care in Cuba, assured the daily news paper Juventud Rebelde that people’s medical coverage in Cuba is not affected by the solidarity being provided overseas by Cuban doctors and other medical professionals. In fact, by United Nations Standards, Cuban people have one of the best health care delivery systems in the world. Morales went on to say that there is no justification for deficiencies related to lack of cleanliness, providing of meals, bed clothing and worker dicipline which can all tarnish the work of medical personnel in Cuba.
The president of Cuba, Raul Castro, announced in February a pay increase scheduled for medical sector workers because the main income for the Cuban econony comes from the work done by so many doctors and medical professionals working in these other countries.
Roberto Morales also spoke about the shortages in Cuba in “materials and technologies” in some hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices and he announced for this year an investment of $91 million to buy replacement items and equipment and to introduce new technologies to address these shortages.
Photo: Students head to class at the Latin American Medical School (ELAM) in Havana, Cuba. Javier Galeamo/AP