Cubas Contributions in the Fight Against the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Cuba’s Contributions in the Fight Against the COVID-19 Pandemic

Franklin Frederick

“They have discovered smart weapons. We have discovered something more important: people think and feel” — Fidel Castro.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the failure of most Western capitalist countries in their public health policies. Decades of neoliberal austerity, of cuts in health and education programs induced by restructuring programs by the IMF and the World Bank, are now showing their results in alarming numbers of contagion and deaths spreading throughout Latin America, Europe and the USA.

In the West, Cuba has set an example of efficiency and shown that another way is possible in the fight against the pandemic.... The numbers speak for themselves; we only need to compare Cuba with other countries or even big cities with similar populations to get a very clear picture of the difference in results. With a population of about 11,350,000, Cuba has had – as of February 21 – 45,361 cumulative cases of COVID-19 with 300 deaths. The Greater New York City area, with a population of about 18,800,00, has a cumulative total of 700,815 cases with 28,888 deaths. Switzerland, with a smaller population than Cuba, about 8,600,000 people, has 550,224 cumulative cases of COVID-19 with 9,226 deaths. How to explain that a country that has far fewer resources than a city like New York or a country like Switzerland can be so much more efficient in its fight against the pandemic?

The answer is simple: the Cuban Revolution of 1959 focused the few resources available in the country on building a healthcare system that would serve the needs of the people first, and not the interests of the various sectors of privatized medicine, such as medical insurance plans, big pharmaceutical companies and the expensive ‘high-tech’ medicine of which the developed countries are so proud. After the Revolution, almost half of the Cuban doctors left the country, greatly limiting the new government’s ability to meet the health needs of its population. The revolutionary government decision was to invest in the training of new health professionals – in people – and to expand access to medical care to the rural population and especially to black Cubans, who had hitherto been left out. In this way, Cuba was able to increase the number of nurses from 2,500 in 1958 to 4,300 a decade later.

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