Beyond Borders: International map of Cuban medical cooperation
“The sun has spots. The ungrateful speak only of the spots. The grateful speak of light” José Martí
Before the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, on 1 January 1959, there were 6,250 doctors on the island; about half of them left the country after that date. In addition, more than 63.2% of those were located in Havana, where public hospitals, clinics and private health centres were accessible only to those who had the resources to access them and could pay for these services. Medical assistance hardly arrived in the countryside and more isolated parts. Public health from the first years of the Revolution became a priority for the Cuban State, who - from the beginning - understood it as a right of the people. The government works to create the infrastructure necessary to offer everyone the services free of charge.
They began to fight diseases, allocating a budget of 22,670,965 pesos to finance the health of the population. These figures have been increasing over time. In 2019, 10,662,200,000 pesos were allocated, and in 2020, 12,740,000,000 ($530 million). This represents 28% of the total budget and, together with that destined to education, makes up more than 50% of it. Both spheres complement each other in the Cuban health system (Portal, 2019). This year’s budget will allow the provision of more than 200 million medical consultations. It will also serve to guarantee the medical 10 THE CUBAN DOCTORS IN CUBA AND THE WORLD services provided in hospitals and institutes, as well as primary health care. This financial coverage will provide 1.4 million hospital admissions and the necessary medications (Portal, 2019). It is also important to take into account the expenses associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, a health emergency that has shaken the world and from which Cuba has been exempt, and has become a champion in its combat and in many other countries.