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Unspinning the spin on Cuban healthcare
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bella Thomas is a British writer who has lived in Cuba and just recently returned from a visit there. Her article is a must read for those who choose to romanticizes life in that benighted country. Take a moment and read it.

One excerpt I'm interested in putting up, though, deals with Cuban healthcare and the growing myth that it is something to which we should aspire. Says Thomas:
Healthcare and education are supposed to be the redeeming graces of the regime, but this is questionable. There are a large number of doctors, but, according to most Cubans I know, many have left the country and the health system is in a ragged state—apart from those hospitals reserved for foreigners—and people often have to pay a bribe to get treated. Michael Moore, the American film director, who has recently been praising the system should take note of the real life stories beneath the statistics. I went into a couple of hospitals for locals on my latest visit. In the first, my friend told me not to say a word in case my accent was noticed, as foreigners are not allowed in these places. I was appalled by the hygiene and amazed at the antiquity of the building and some of the equipment. I was told that the vast majority of Cuban hospitals, apart from two in Havana, were built before the revolution. Which revolution, I wondered; this one seemed to date from the 1900s.

On another occasion, I saw a man in a white coat with a stethoscope around his neck hurrying along the boulevard of Vedado, in west Havana. We struck up a conversation. He was on his way to the hospital around the corner. I asked him if he would take me there. He was charming and intelligent, and had that ease of communication that many Cubans possess: he wasn't at all taken aback by an unknown woman in dark glasses asking to accompany him to work. The doctor told me that I shouldn't be too shocked; the hospital was being "refurbished." The building certainly was in a state of filth and decrepitude. This was not a place one would want to be ill in.
The fact that anyone, in this day and age, is taken in by show facilities is, frankly, amazing. As with all totalitarian regimes, a visitor is going to see only what they choose to show them and they will tell them only those things which reflect well on the regime and, of course, validate what the visitor wants to think. Michael Moore and those of his ilk (Billy's "useful idiots") are most helpful in spreading and fortifying this myth. Thomas does an excellent and credible job of dispelling their spin on the subject.

More interesting info here, here, here and here.
 
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You forgot to put in a link to the article.
 
Written By: George
URL: http://
Thanks ... fixed.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
You are quite right that nobody should be taken in by Potemkin Hospitals and I’m certain that healthcare is not a rose garden in Cuba. On the other hand, Cuban hospitals versus US hospitals are perhaps a less cogent comparison than Cuban hospitals versus those in, say, the Domincan Republic.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
No, Retief, it is entirely fair to compare Cuban hospitals to US hospitals. We’ve had a couple of commenters come here and tell us that it’s much better to be poor in Cuba than in the US because the health care there is so much better. This puts the lie to their claims.

 
Written By: steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
And Michael Moore started the whole thing by making a film to poke out America’s eye over health care. Comparison is on the table.
 
Written By: cap joe
URL: http://
Cuba’s a third world country and no way can their health care cmpare to first world countries. Whether or not the very poor get better treatment in Cuba than the US is possible, but I’d have to see data before accepting that claim.

I can’t imagine anyone seriously defending Castro’s human rights record. But it’s rather amazing he has stayed in power despite a US sponsored invasion (admittedly not well supported), operation Mongoose with various attempts to kill Castro and undermine the Cuban economy, and a long term embargo. Maybe we should just drop all that — it’s not been working — and have confidence in our system. Let people travel there and trade with Cubans, knowing that ultimately the power of our ideas can triumph.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Whether or not the very poor get better treatment in Cuba than the US is possible, but I’d have to see data before accepting that claim.
I don’t believe it’s possible. I’ve read the articles and seen the photos about the real Cuban healthcare system - the squalor, the lack of drugs, etc. Even the very poor in the US can walk into an emergency room and get treatment at a modern medical facility. That is not true in Cuba, if even a tenth of the investigative articles that go beyond the regime’s facade system are true.

But one thing is for d*mn sure. We’ll never get any data from the Communist regime in Cuba that can be relied on as being anywhere near the truth. So you’ll never see that data, Scott. It’s pointless to even bring up such a supposition.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
I don’t believe it’s possible. I’ve read the articles and seen the photos about the real Cuban healthcare system - the squalor, the lack of drugs, etc. Even the very poor in the US can walk into an emergency room and get treatment at a modern medical facility. That is not true in Cuba, if even a tenth of the investigative articles that go beyond the regime’s facade system are true.

But one thing is for d*mn sure. We’ll never get any data from the Communist regime in Cuba that can be relied on as being anywhere near the truth. So you’ll never see that data, Scott. It’s pointless to even bring up such a supposition.
You can’t get data from Cuba, but you can get evidence in a variety of ways, including the Bella Thomas piece quoted in the post (and on its face I’d give a lot of credence to it). I agree that the claim doesn’t seem at all likely, but I’m no expert on Cuba so I can’t dismiss it out of hand. I do know that many Americans don’t seek care because economic concerns. They won’t turn you away, but you may have a collection agency after you. And I’m not sure what’s available for non-emergency care for the very poor in America compared to Cuba.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Its simply the modern version of "the noble savage" where westerners imagine a tropical paradise, with no cares or worries, that offers free healthcare to Swiss standards, etc., etc. Ahhh, how idyllic!
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
The Soviet Union, too, had magnificent health care and education systems. All Communist countries, by virtue of their innate superiority, do. They would also have superior agricultural output but, unfortunately, Communist countries always seem to suffer from an unusual amount of adverse weather. A CIA plot, no doubt.
Or maybe God just hates F**** commies.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"US healthcare may suck but it’s better than Cuba" Nice slogan fellas.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
"US healthcare may suck but it’s better than Cuba" Nice slogan fellas.
US healtcare sucks so bad that people from countries with nationalized health care come to the US for treatments they can’t get back home.

Your attempt to frame the debate this way is disingenous at best.
 
Written By: steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
The really pathetic thing is even by the Cuban commies own stats
Cuban healthcare is worse than in 1957 compared to their relative position to the rest of the world



And if you listen to the middle class leftists that’s the only stat that counts.
Falling from an first world/near first world status to low third world status economy barely ranks a minor negative if at all.
 
Written By: emmess
URL: http://
Whoops

http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/cb/cuba/asce/cuba8/30smith.pdf
 
Written By: emmess
URL: http://
it is entirely fair to compare Cuban hospitals to US hospitals.
My attempt to frame it this way, steverino???
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
My attempt to frame it this way, steverino???
Yes, Retief. I’m not trying to frame the debate at all, just pointing out that comparing Cuba’s health care to the US’s is entirely fair.

You tried to frame what we discussed as "US health care sucks, but it’s better than Cuba, so that’s okay" That’s not at all what was discussed here, and I called you on it.

Your first post was mistaken, but probably intended honestly. Your second and third posts, however, reek of intellectual dishonesty. If you want to debate fairly, I’m game. But I won’t let you mischaracterize the issues raised.
 
Written By: steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
Steverino, I think we may be responding to different questions. In response to McQ’s post arguing that Cuba’s healthcare may not be quite as good as show-facilities have led certain gullible observers to believe, I suggest that while this is certainly true, the standard of care in the US and developed world is not common in the third world in any case, and Cuba’s may still be comprable to, or better than, the healthcare typical of other carribean nations with similar histories.

You seem to be responding to something else. Perhaps the suggestion from somewhere that it’s much better to be poor in Cuba than in the US. In that context, sure it makes sense to compare the healthcare typical in either case. But that seems like a not very useful mesuring stick by which to judge either healthcare system in any other context. Thus my mocking suggestion that holding the US healthcare system to the standard of being "better than Cuba" might be an unhelpfully low bar. The, perhaps too subtle, mocking nature of the better than Cuba bar led me to express surprise that you should suggest that I was encouraging that Cuba-versus-US-measure when I was, in fact, deriding it, and it was you who had been telling me it was "fair".
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://

 
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