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How Cuba Excels in Public Healthcare

... Ashish Bharati

Cuba has always stood out for its Health Care system. Cuba consistently scores high on all major health care indicators that is comparable with the most developed countries of the world.

Cuba’s record is impressive in terms of infant mortality and life expectancy. The infant mortality rate of 4.2 per thousand births in Cuba is lower than it is in the United States and is among the lowest in the world.  With a life expectancy of 78 years, Cuba is one of the best performers and scores at par with the USA. This achievement is particularly impressive when looked in the context of Per Capita Income, which is similar to countries like China.

Cuba has been able to achieve this despite the decades-long U.S. trade embargo, which makes this feat extraordinary.

What Cuba did Right

So the question arises as to what Cuba has been doing right to achieve what it has achieved.

Firstly, Cuba’s commitment to healthcare goes as far back as the 1959 Cuban Revolution when it made education and health a priority as a universal right. It followed up on this commitment by making health care universally available free of charge to everyone.

Secondly, Cuba’s health care system has been closely linked to research and development. Cuba has continuously focused on producing its own versions of critical medicines, such as pediatric vaccines to deal with infectious diseases.

Thirdly, Cuba's health care system is based on preventive medicine as against the inefficient and more expensive curative model and the results achieved are outstanding.

Finally, Cuba has promoted biotechnology sector for more advanced approaches using monoclonal antibodies and therapeutic vaccines.

Political Will

What really stands at the core of this success is the political will that puts basic health of the citizens at the top of the national priority list. Cuba has shown the way that it is possible for  the poorer countries with limited resources to implement an efficient health care system and provide all segments of the population with social protection worthy of the name.

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