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Por Manuel Alberto Ramy
Last Tuesday, february 5, Ariel Terrero, economic commentator for the program, “Good Morning,” which is shown on Cuban TV, analyzed the well-worn subject of health services on the island.
During his commentary he responded to certain states of opinion that relate deficiencies in service with Cuban cooperation abroad. “There has been much speculation that the fact that doctors work abroad leaves a gap in [domestic] services,” he said.
For the commentator, people should look at the matter from three points of view, to wit: moral, economic and mathematical.
The moral angle, according to Terrero, is expressed in showing solidarity with other countries, in sharing what one has and not what is left over,” he claimed. And the economic angle of his analysis is based on the fact, that is undeniable, that Cuba has been turning into a country that exports knowledge, exports highly qualified human resources, a reality that has been having a favorable impact on the island’s balance of trade. The third element of the analysis is the “mathematical,” he said, and he delved into the Cuban Statistical Yearbook, which claims that the country has 72,000 doctors, of which “some 18,000” provide service in other regions of the planet.
According to those facts there are 54,000 doctors remaining in Cuba, a figure that is similar to the 1994 one, when primary medical care was covered by 17,000 doctors; this primary system has at its base the family doctors, who treat the population of one or several neighborhoods of a zone.
Browsing through the 2006 Statistical Yearbook I find that the primary system had 33,221 doctors in 2006, which covered 14,007 family clinics. This figure signifies almost twice the 18,000 who, according to Terrero, work out of the countryñ and I confess, without doubting for a moment the honesty of the commentator, who is brilliant, that I did not find in the yearbook the number of doctors who work out of the country, just the 68 countries where they work.
Several months ago, Bohemia Magazine, where Terrero is chief of information, carried out a poll in distinct provinces of Cuba, which asked people for their opinions about the public health system. The poll reported that the public was satisfied with the fact that the services were free, the training of the medical personnel and acknowledged the incorporation of high technology equipment into the network of polyclinics. The complaints or weaknesses were based, according to the poll, on the higiene prevalent in the clinics and the instability of supplies.
The conclusion of the commentator is that the problems are not due to the absence of doctors and technicians, but to a problem of organization of work. But I would like to know the exact and current number of doctors who provide service out of the country.
Comment by Diana Barahona — February 16, 2008 @ 11:31 pm