19 November 2006

Films on Cuban Heath Care in Birmingham

On the 15th of December, the Midlands Arts Centre (in Cannon Hill Park, opposite Edgbaston Cricket Ground) will have two documentaries on Cuban health care.

Cuba has the highest life-expectancy in Latin America. In 2002, Cuba had the lowest infant mortality rate in the Americas along with Canada. Preventative medical care, medication for hospitalised patients and diagnostic tests are free. Cuba provides a doctor for every 170 residents and has the second highest doctor to patient ratio in the world after Italy.

This kind of healthcare can be achieved if government makes it a priority.

In 1976, healthcare was enshrined in article 50 of the Cuban constitution: "Everyone has the right to health protection and care. The state guarantees this right by providing free medical and hospital care by means of the installations of the rural medical service network, polyclinics, hospitals, preventative and specialized treatment centers; by providing free dental care; by promoting the health publicity campaigns, health education, regular medical examinations, general vaccinations and other measures to prevent the outbreak of disease. All the population cooperates in these activities and plans through the social and mass organizations."

The two films that MAC will show are:

"Let There Be Light" -- a look at the 200 000 people from Latin America and the Caribbean who hae received free eye operations in a joint Cuban-Venezuelan initiative.

"On the Hillside of the Himalayas," -- a look at Cuba's sending of 2,465 health workers to Pakistan in the wake of the October 2005 earthquake.
Cuba's contribution of 32 new, state-of-the-art hospitals will greatly improve Pakistan’s healthcare system. The departing staff will train local health workers before they leave, and the Cuban government has generously offered 1,000 seats in its universities to Pakistani medical students.

"It is a tremendous effort and incredible story," said Maj-Gen Farooq Ahmed Khan, head of Pakistan’s earthquake emergency unit. "The fact is that they have been here for over five months, day and night with no real relief. They left their loved ones and the work in Cuba, and they have really created a very good impression in Pakistan."

Usmani Ramos, a general practitioner specialising in family healthcare, is part of the Cuban team. He said he is motivated by a basic belief in humanity: "If you help people during natural disasters, in the future, they will help you," he said. "Solidarity is important, because you can help people, you can make friends. And friendship is better than weapons."

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