Medicine Without Borders

As we excitedly wait for film maker Michael Moore’s new
masterpiece,”Sicko,” I decided to do some research on Cuba’s
health care system.

“Sicko” spotlights the negligent U.S. health care system.
In a brilliant example of contrast, Moore takes 911 fire fighters and
rescue workers with life threatening lung problems their
health insurance policies refused to cover, first to
the U.S. Post Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where
care was refused; then to Havana, where the doctors there
happily treated them.

50,000 people are without health care insurance in the
United States. Many of those who are insured are under
insured. The job of the insurance companies
is to deny claims and services to their clients, whether
they admit it, or not.

According to Health Care Now, the U.S. ranked 58 in the
provision of health care worldwide. More than 50% of American
bankruptcies are the result of inability to pay for medical emergencies.

The United States has aggressively attempted and
consistently failed to destroy the communist government of
Fidel Castro, most recently through an ongoing blockade of
goods and services into that country.

Due to the pressure the U.S. has exerted on other
countries to stop their trade with Cuba, Cuba has been
forced to request higher prices for goods and services,
including medicine. In one year, Cuba had to pay
an extra 45 million dollars for pharmaceuticals, which is
80% to 140% more than other buyers of medicine, according
to Medi-Cuba, the Cuban firm that imports medicine
and human technology.

Nevertheless, Cuba continues to offer free and
comprehensive health care to all her citizens.

In addition, since 1963, Cuba has exported its exemplary
health care service around the world, sending doctors and its own
technological advancements in medicine to countries throughout
Latin America and Africa.

Cuba provided much needed medical support after the 2005
earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan. Fidel Castro offered to
lend medical support after the devastation following
Hurricane Katrina. Medical Personnel were packed and ready to go.

Unfortunately, the U.S. chose to play politics over the
saving of lives.


Cuba trains international students at its medical schools.
After Hurricane George and Mitch plummeted Central America and the
Caribbean, Cuban Doctors rushed to the disaster zone, as was their
practice for similar acts of Mother Nature.

When it was time to go back to Cuba, the team of doctors saw a need for
posting doctors in several of these countries in order to
train local people in medicine.

Thus the Havana-based Latin American School of Medicine or
ELAM, was born, offering $10,000 scholarships for free medical training.

The Program has grown to 22,000 students from Latin
America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the United States. The students attend
ELAM and 28 other medical schools across Cuba. The students represent all
ethnic groups, 51% are women, and they come from 30 countries.

A young person from inner city Bronx who chooses to
take part in this program, for instance, must promise to take
her expertise back to the neighborhood she came from.

350,000 people now work in the health care field in Cuba,
serving a population of 11 million people. Everyone has access
to doctors, nurses, specialists and medicines. A doctor and
nurse team oversees every neighborhood.

House calls are routine. The wisdom of treating a patient
holistically, knowing a patient’s family and her environment,
is crucial to successful treatment.

Doctors and nurses in Cuba are trained in acupuncture,
herbal treatments, massage and other natural health modalities, as well,
something lacking in American health care.

The exportation of Cuban health care is a Peace Project
that we all can learn from.

Before Cuba sent doctors to Pakistan, relations between
these two countries were not harmonious. But now, the relationship
is “magnificent,” says Dr Ceballos, a Cuban physician.

The investments in health care missions “are resources that
prevent confrontation with other nations,” Dr Ceballos explains.
“The solidarity with Cuba has restrained aggressions of all kinds.”

And in a statement that acknowledges Cuba’s vulnerabilities
on the global stage, Dr. Ceballos explains, “It’s infinitely
better to invest in peace than to invest in war.”


“Family and Business Health care Security Act of 2007” is
a single payer health care plan currently being set forth
in the state of Pennsylvania where I live.
It may prove to be the prototype health care plan for every
state in the union.

Michael Moore’s “Sicko” has opened the debate. Now we must
get active and change the world.

Kate Loving Shenk is a writer, healer, musician and the creator
of the e-book called “Transform Your Nursing Career and Discover
Your Calling and Destiny.” The book is designed to stimulate
nurses to love their work and to prevent on-the-job-burnout.
Click here to find out how to order the e-book:
Check out Kate’s Blog:
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Published in: on June 9, 2007 at 9:58 am  Leave a Comment  

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