Cuba spends about $400 per person each year on healthcare, while in the U.S. that number is about $9000 according to the World Health Organization.
Yet the two nations have about the same life expectancy: 76 for men and 81 for women.
There are a lot of reasons why the U.S. spends so much more. Medical resources are limited in Cuba. The U.S. stopped trading medical supplies over 50 years ago when they set up the embargo. Cuba is also poor.
But it has the highest doctor-per-patient ratio of any country in the world. And labor is cheap. Doctors’ salaries are only $30 a month.
The country can’t afford many prescription drugs, so Cubans often use herbal medicines. And health stats show the system seems to be working. Katie Manning reports.
Photo courtesy of Katie Manning
One thought on “What’s Cuban medicine like?”
Katie Manning was taken in by the official Cuban propaganda tour. Had she left her handlers, she would have found a different kind of medical reality in Cuba. Cuba has different kinds of hospitals for people with different strata of political connections. Medical care for the elite is truly quite good. For the rest of the country, not so much. When I visited an ordinary hospital in Havana, I saw a neonatal ward that had beds crammed side by side down both sides of a long corridor. There was only one toilet, and water was flowing out of it down the length of the ward. I stayed for 20 min, and nobody got a mop. That’s the result of doctors working for $30/month, and other medical workers earning far less. Yes, poor people can see a doctor, but there is no money to supply the most basic drugs. When I returned to the states, I asked a family I’d grown close to what they would like me to send them. They requested pain reliever for arthritis, which they could not afford on their official income of $10/month. No more romantic nonsense about “traditional medicine” being better than the Western pharmacopeia. Please.