Cuban Medical Internationalism: Origins, Evolution, and Goals

Overview

While public health is important for revolutionary Cuba, providing medical services to the developing world is also a priority: 38,000 medical staff are engaged abroad; the largest medical school in the world (ELAM) has an enrollment of over 8,000 students from the Third World; and since 2004 over 1.3 million in Latin America and the Caribbean have had their eyesight restored. How has this small nation of 11.3 million people managed to save more lives in the developing world than all of the G-8 countries ...

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Overview

While public health is important for revolutionary Cuba, providing medical services to the developing world is also a priority: 38,000 medical staff are engaged abroad; the largest medical school in the world (ELAM) has an enrollment of over 8,000 students from the Third World; and since 2004 over 1.3 million in Latin America and the Caribbean have had their eyesight restored. How has this small nation of 11.3 million people managed to save more lives in the developing world than all of the G-8 countries together? And what are its motives? This book, the result of four years of research in Cuba, provides an updated analysis of this extraordinary record.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is an important and much-needed book. Cuba, a small island of 11 million souls, has some 36,000 medical personnel providing assistance to other countries, many of them too poor to pay for the service. It also has the largest medical school in the world with an enrollment of over 8,000 students from Third World countries. Their only commitment when they graduate is that they returban to their home countries and provide medical services to those who can least afford it. In sum, Cuba is credited with saving more lives in the developing countries than all the G-8 countries together. How has it done this? Erisman and Kirk begin to tell us how.”—Wayne S. Smith, Senior Fellow and Director of the Cuba Program at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C.

“John Kirk and Michael Erisman have produced a path-breaking study that has no equal in elaborating the extent and significance of Cuba’s international medical programs. These are a key aspect of Cuba’s foreign policy, as the authors deftly demonstrate by relating medical internationalism to Cuba's political goals and relations with the Third World.”—Philip Brenner, Professor of International Relations, American University; co-author of Sad and Luminous Days: Cuba's Struggle with the Superpowers after the Missile Crisis.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403983725
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 6/9/2009
  • Series: Studies of the Americas Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

H. Michael Erisman is Professor of Political Science at Indiana State University. He is the author of Cuba’s International Relations: The Anatomy of a Nationalistic Foreign Policy (1985), South-South Relations in the Caribbean (1992), and Cuba’s Foreign Relations in a Post-Soviet World (2000). He co-edited (with John M. Kirk) Cuban Foreign Policy Confronts a New International Order (1991), and Redefining Cuban Foreign Policy: The Impact of the ‘Special Period’ (2006). He is a member of the editorial boards of the “Jourbanal of Latin American Society and Politics” and “Cuban Studies.”

John M. Kirk is Professor of Latin American Studies at Dalhousie University in Canada. He is the author of José Martí: Mentor of the Cuban Nation (1985), and Between God and the Party: Religion and Politics in Revolutionary Cuba (1989). He is the co-author of Sesenta años de relaciones bilaterales: Cuba y Canadá (2007), and the co-editor of Cuba: Twenty-Five Years of Revolution: 1959-1984 (1985), Culture and the Cuban Revolution: Conversations in Havana (2001), A Contemporary Cuba Reader: Reinventing the Revolution (2008), and Competing Voices from Revolutionary Cuba (forthcoming). He is a member of the editorial boards of the jourbanal of the International Institute for the Study of Cuba, and “Cuban Studies”. He is also the editor of the “Contemporary Cuba” series with the University Press of Florida.

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Table of Contents

Cuba as a World Medical Power
• The Cuban Health Care System
• Cuba’s Cold War Medical Aid Programs
• Contemporary Cuban Medical Aid Programs: The General Third World Arena
• Contemporary Cuban Medical Aid Programs: Latin America and the Caribbean
• Towards an Understanding of Cuban Medical internationalism

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  • Posted July 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Superb study of Cuba's magnificent medical aid programs

    John Kirk, Professor of Latin American Studies at Dalhousie University in Canada, and Michael Erisman, Professor of Political Science at Indiana State University, have written a most important book on Cuba's medical internationalism.

    As the authors write, Cuba "has resolutely promoted public health as a fundamental human right for all, regardless of wealth, socioeconomic status, race, or geographical origin." So Cuba has a better infant mortality rate, 5/1,000, than the USA's 7/1,000. In 1958, before the revolution, it had been 60/1,000. Life expectancy then was 55 years; it is now 78, better than the USA's.

    The authors note, "Cuba has devoted most of its energy and resources to developmental assistance, with health care at the forefront of such efforts. Indeed, the provision of medical aid has been a fundamental principle of the Cuban Revolution from the very beginning, a principle that has flowed from the conviction that medicine should not be perceived as a business, but rather as a right of the citizens and a duty for physicians, regardless of the ability of the patient to pay." They point out, "the Revolution's commitment to and success in building a world-class health care system on the island represents the foundation upon which Havana's medical diplomacy rests."

    Cuba's medical schools graduated 83,982 people between 1960 and 2004. Cuba has provided free medical education for thousands of Cubans (it now has 70,000 doctors) and (since 1959) for 52,000 people from 130 other countries. Its Latin American Medical School, with an enrolment of over 8,000 students from Third World countries, is the world's largest medical school. Cuba has helped to set up ten medical schools in other countries.

    By 2009, 38,000 Cuban medical personnel, including 17,000 doctors, were working overseas, in 73 countries, providing low-cost, sustainable primary health care, stressing preventive medicine. Cuban medical staff were caring for more than 70 million people in the world, more than the whole G8 put together, plus the World Health Organisation and Médicins Sans Frontieres. 1.5 million people owe their lives to Cuba's medical aid programmes.

    In those areas of Ghana where Cuban medical professionals worked, infant mortality fell from 59/1,000 to 7.8/1,000. Its Operation Milagro has restored the sight of 1.5 million people, through free eye surgery (March 2009 figure).

    In 2004, Médicins Sans Frontieres stopped working in Haiti, claiming it was too dangerous. Yet Cuba had 332 doctors working there, serving three quarters of the population, and cutting infant mortality from 80/1,000 to 28/1,000.

    As the authors sum up, "This level of humanitarian solidarity is unprecedented, with Cuba doing more to assist underdeveloped and developing nations than any other country in the world." President Jimmy Carter said, "Of the so-called developing countries, Cuba has by far the best health system, and their outreach program to other countries is unequalled anywhere."

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