February 4, 2023

Lakeview Gazette

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The deaths of eight children in Havana have focused attention on the dire state of the Cuban regime’s health system

Maternal and Child Hospital Hijaz de Galicia in Havana. (Photo: Let’s Talk Magazine)

Eight premature and low birth weight babies have died in a Havana hospital in recent days —four of whom may have sepsis—is one of the pillars of Cuba’s focus on public health. 1959 Socialist Revolution.

Dolores and her husband German – fictitious names – do not imagine what Ministry of Public Health The Cuban Dictatorship (MINSAP) will report on what happened in the hospital where his son was born a few days ago. Until the report, they had only bad experience living in the center known as “Hijaz de Galicia”.

“It was only on the third day there that they went to clean his room, which he shared with someone else. If you have pain already at 10pm there is no doctor”, the German tells EFE.

The day before Dolores was to be discharged, the couple learned that four of their newborns had died there. “As a result, you can imagine that all mothers discharge on their own account,” she laments.

Acknowledging an increase in complications among newborns since the “second half of December,” the health ministry assures that “measures have been taken” to tackle the situation after eight deaths of newborns.

The “Daughters of Galicia” case is not a story. Experts are unanimous in warning that the health system of a country seen as a health powerhouse for decades is deteriorating.

According to an analysis by a Cuban economist Carmelo Meza-Lago, Published in independent media touching Taking figures from official statistical yearbooks, the regime has cut social spending since 2007 to adjust its economic efficiency.

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Mesa-Lago says this has significantly reduced funding for social assistance and public health.

According to the Minnesota Statistical Yearbook for 2020 – the latest – Cuba has more than 90 doctors for every 10,000 people, practically triple the number recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, Mesa-Lago explains in a telephone conversation with EFE Half of the family doctors are abroad. Exports of professional services, especially healthcare, are Cuba’s main source of foreign exchange, tourism and remittances.

Pictured is a recording of Cuban dictator Miguel Diaz-Canel.  EFE/File
Pictured is a recording of Cuban dictator Miguel Diaz-Canel. EFE/File

According to official statistics, the number of hospitals has decreased by 32% between 2008 and 2021, emphasized the Emeritus Professor of Economics and Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, USA).

“It is clear that there has been a significant deterioration in the health system,” he concludes.

This decrease contrasts with investments made by the government in other branches such as hotel construction..

In fact, according to the National Office of Statistics and Information (Onei), Cuba invested fifteen times more in hotel construction and other real estate activities between January and September 2022 than in social services and health.

The degradation Mesa-Lago is talking about isn’t just statistics. Many Cubans have had or know someone who has had a bad experience. The condition of hospitals is, in many cases, evident to the naked eye.

Added to this are the general shortcomings of a country in deep economic crisis for more than two years, and it extends to such major issues. Lack of basic health supplies and medicines.

A mother with her son in her arms leaves a children's hospital in Havana, Cuba, in a file photo.  EFE / Yander Zamora
A mother with her son in her arms leaves a children’s hospital in Havana, Cuba, in a file photo. EFE / Yander Zamora

The dictatorship blames this and other problems on US sanctions. For Mesa-Lago, the ban is a factor, but not the only one. He also cites the pandemic and the country’s economic structure. He asserts that “the Right attributes everything to Communism and the Left attributes everything to Prohibition (…) They are simplistic positions.”

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Economist says drug shortages likely originate in China, not America

“China exported inputs (to the island) for the production of drugs, which Cuba stopped because it had a huge trade deficit with the country. It is estimated that it costs 500 million dollars to replace drugs that are not on the basic schedule, and another 500 million to import the goods,” he adds.

The State Committee of the Biopharmaceutical Industry (BioCubaFarma) assured last May that the 94% shortage was explained by “unavailability of raw materials”.

In a recent interview in the official regional newspaper Escambre, Angel Luis Sacon, director general of the Medicines Marketing and Distributor Company (Mcamed), indicated that more than 50% of the basic list of medicines were “affected”.

With information from EFE

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