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Cuba – the best health care system in the world ?!

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Hola, I hope you have been eating healthy because I have some important news to share.

Imagine your doctor knocking at your door to give not just you, but your whole family, an annual health check-up.

As well as taking blood pressure, checking hearts and asking all sorts of questions about your job and your lifestyle, this doctor is also taking careful note of the state of your home, assessing anything which could be affecting the health of you and your family.

This is what happens in Cuba and although it might not go down well everywhere, its a pro-active approach to healthcare that yields some impressive results.

In terms of having healthy people, the Cuban health service outperforms other low and medium income countries and in some cases, outperforms much richer ones too.

Despite spending a fraction of what the United States spends on healthcare (the World Bank reports Cuba spends $431 per head per year compared with $8,553 in the US) Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the US and a similar life expectancy.

So how do they do it, and could other countries, rich and poor, learn from the Cuban example?

World Health Organization director-general Margaret Chan certainly thinks so.

She has praised the preventative nature of the Cuban health system and called on other countries to follow the Cuban example.

Healthcare in Cuba is free and universal, enshrined in the Cuban constitution as a fundamental human right, guaranteed by the state.

And the foundation of their preventative health care model is at primary care level, the family doctors who oversee the health of those who live around the clinic.

And Cuba does have lots of doctors.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Cubas preventative healthcare eases pressure on hospitals

To serve its population of 11 million, the country has 90,000 of them. Thats eight for every 1,000 citizens – more than double the rate in the US and in the UK (the US has 2.5 doctors per 1,000, the UK 2.7 per 1,000 according to the World Bank).

And many of these doctors are based in neighbourhood medical centres and, along with a nurse and support from visiting specialists, they monitor closely the health and wellbeing of every single Cuban.

Tanya Rosa de la Cuevas Hill is a specialist in comprehensive medicine and she runs a neighbourhood clinic in Old Havana. Along with her nurse, she looks after 334 families who live in the surrounding streets.

“Being a family doctor, I love it,” she says. “The first mission we have is to prevent illness. Thats the wonderful thing about my job. Prevention of diseases, prevention of accidents, thats what I like best”.

Key to the prevention model is the annual health assessment, a full health check-up which every single one of their 1,287 patients will undergo, often at their homes.

This is truly amazing, having so many doctors to take very good care of you, so you don’t get sick, may this inspire you.

Author: Ricardo – Jamaica

source photo: pinterest

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