domingo, agosto 14, 2005

Cuba: The Health Care Systems

Health Statistics

The Health Care System is often touted by many analysts as one of the Castro government's greatest achievements. What this analysis ignores is that the revolutionary government inherited an already-advanced health sector when it took power in 1959.

Cuba's infant mortality rate of 32 per 1,000 live births in 1957 was the lowest in Latin America and the 13th lowest in the world, according to UN data. Cuba ranked ahead of France, Belgium, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, all of which would eventually pass Cuba in this indicator during the following decades.

Today, Cuba remains the most advanced country in the region in this measure, but its world ranking has fallen from 13th to 24th during the Castro era, according to UN Data. Also missing from the conventional analysis of Cuba's infant mortality rates is its staggering abortion rate -- 0.71 abortions per live birth in 1991, according to the latest UN data -- which, because of selective termination of "high-risk" pregnancies, yields lower numbers for infant mortality. Cuba's abortion rate is at least twice the rate for the other countries in the table below for which data are available.
In terms of physicians and dentists per capita, Cuba in 1957 ranked third in Latin America, behind only Uruguay and Argentina -- both of which were more advanced than the United States in this measure. Cuba's 128 physicians and dentists per 100,000 people in 1957 was the same as the Netherlands, and ahead of the United Kingdom (122 per 100,000 people) and Finland (96).

Unfortunately, the UN statistical yearbook no longer publishes these statistics, so more recent comparisons are not possible, but it is completely erroneous to characterize pre-Revolutionary Cuba as backward in terms of healthcare.

Source: United Nations