Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba Are Changing the World's Conception of Health Careby Steve Brouwer Brouwer
Pub. Date: 05/01/2011
Publisher: Monthly Review Press
Revolutionary Doctors gives readers a first-hand account of Venezuela's innovative and inspiring program of community healthcare, designed to serve--and largely carried out by--the poor themselves. Drawing on long-term participant observations as well as in-depth research, Brouwer tells the story of Venezuela's Integral Community Medicine program, in which/b>
Revolutionary Doctors gives readers a first-hand account of Venezuela's innovative and inspiring program of community healthcare, designed to serve--and largely carried out by--the poor themselves. Drawing on long-term participant observations as well as in-depth research, Brouwer tells the story of Venezuela's Integral Community Medicine program, in which doctor-teachers move into the countryside and poor urban areas to recruit and train doctors from among peasants and workers. Such programs were first developed in Cuba, and Cuban medical personnel play a key role in Venezuela today as advisors and organizers. This internationalist model has been a great success--Cuba is a world leader in medicine and medical training--and Brouwer shows how the Venezuelans are now, with the aid of their Cuban counterparts, following suit.
But this program is not without its challenges. It has faced much hostility from traditional Venezuelan doctors as well as all the forces antagonistic to the Venezuelan and Cuban revolutions. Despite the obstacles it describes, Revolutionary Doctors demonstrates how a society committed to the well-being of its poorest people can actually put that commitment into practice, by delivering essential healthcare through the direct empowerment of the people it aims to serve.
- Monthly Review Press
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This is a fascinating and informative book. Between 1961 and 2008, Cuba sent 185,000 medical specialists to work in 103 nations. The Cuban-Venezuelan project Misión Milagro has provided free eye surgery to more than 1.5 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean. Between 1998 and 2007, Cuban medical personnel in Haiti conducted almost 15 million patient visits that helped bring big changes to Haiti’s people. Life span increased from 54 to 61, and the maternity death rate, infant mortality rate and child mortality rate all fell by more than half. After the 2010 earthquake, the US Navy treated 871 patients and performed 843 surgical operations in seven weeks. In the same period, Cuban medical brigades treated 227,443 patients and performed 6,499 surgical operations. In the USA, the organisation Project Censored named “Cuba Provided the Greatest Medical Aid to Haiti after the Earthquake” as one of 2010’s outstanding stories ignored by the corporate media. By 2009, Cuba had 74,880 doctors, one for every 150 citizens, more than the USA’s one for every 417. In 2008, Cuba’s infant mortality rate was 5/1,000, the USA’s was 7/1,000; and Cuba’s mortality rate of under-5s was 6/1,000, the USA’s was 8/1,000. Cuba has achieved all this in the teeth of the US state’s 50-year assault on Cuba which has included invasions, terrorist bombings and sabotage, assassinations (attempted and achieved), biological warfare, the economic blockade, lying propaganda, disinformation and media sabotage. James Cason, head of the US Interests Section, was told in 2002 to create so much ‘chaos’ that Cuba would expel him, causing a complete break in diplomatic relations. Cuba did not fall into the trap. Instead it charged 75 Cubans, who had collaborated with Cason, with taking aid from a foreign power in order to engage in activities harmful to the government (which is also a crime in the USA and most other countries). In 2005 the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) paid the governments of Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic $2.4 million to fund their anti-Cuba groups. In 2006, the US government set up a ‘Cuba Fund for a Democratic Future’ with an $80 million budget. In 2010 the US Agency for International Development was sending 50 people a month into Cuba to deliver ‘technical and financial’ assistance to ‘dissidents’. The State Department lied that the USA was not involved in the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela, but its own Office of Inspector General reported, “It is clear that NED, Department of Defense (DOD), and other U.S. assistance programs provided training, institution building, and other support to individuals and organizations understood to be actively involved in the brief ouster of the Chavez government.” The US state under Obama is still doing its worst to destroy the wonderful health care achieved by Cuba and Venezuela.