Steady Rise in Imported Medical Equipment in Cuba
The EU lifted diplomatic sanctions last year, in January 2009, Cuba announced it was open to direct talks with the US, whilst in April, President Obama made policy changes related to US based relatives travel and money transfer. In 2008, America stated that the embargo will remain unless Cuba converts to a democracy.
Cuba has been growing closer to Venezuela in recent years with Venezuela supplying Cuba with energy. Between January and May 2009, Cuba processed 8 million barrels of crude oil in its Cienfuegos refinery. There are ten ships which transport oil and gas to ALBA countries and others in a joint Cuban-Venezuelan oil venture to ensure independence in the energy sector. Cuba pays for the energy partly by collaborating on joint projects, for example, Operation Miracle.
Three hurricanes which hit in 2008 will cost around US$10 billion to repair. The storms severely impacted on 2,000 health centres and Cuba's power and road networks. Cuba refused US financial assistance due to the trade embargo situation.
Cuba is one of the world's last unreformed communist countries. The healthcare sector is highly centralised and controlled by the government. However, the new regime has made small changes, decentralising agriculture, giving land to private farmers. Raúl Castro is seemingly more open to liberalising the economy whilst still retaining communist values, looking to China's example. An abolishing of the wages cap and allowing bonuses from August 2008 is an attempt to revitalise the economy.
Unlike many communist countries, Cuba has always made a priority of healthcare. Medical research has a good reputation, and the country trains more doctors per head of population than anywhere else in the world. Its Latin American doctor training programme (ELAF) sees around 3,000 doctors graduate each year.
Healthcare provision is often very basic. The country lacks the funds to expand and upgrade equipment, which generally needs to be imported. Patients may therefore have good access to doctors and facilities, but advanced treatments are far harder to come by.
Source: Business Wire