Being America means never having to learn from other countries. Despite massive evidence that virtually every developed nation in the world has a better healthcare system than America, Americans dismiss them all with the no-think “socialized medicine” and carry on with a system that just gets worse with every passing year. So, there’s no chance that we will learn anything at all from Sarah Van Gelder’s exploration of Cuban healthcare, but it’s still a good read:
House calls are routine, in part because it’s the responsibility of the doctor and nurse team to understand you and your health issues in the context of your family, home, and neighborhood. This is key to the system. By catching diseases and health hazards before they get big, the Cuban medical system can spend a little on prevention rather than a lot later on to cure diseases, stop outbreaks, or cope with long-term disabilities. When a health hazard like dengue fever or malaria is identified, there is a coordinated nationwide effort to eradicate it. Cubans no longer suffer from diphtheria, rubella, polio, or measles and they have the lowest AIDS rate in the Americas, and the highest rate of treatment and control of hypertension.
For health issues beyond the capacity of the neighborhood doctor, polyclinics provide specialists, outpatient operations, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and labs. Those who need inpatient treatment can go to hospitals; at the end of their stay, their neighborhood medical team helps make the transition home. Doctors at all levels are trained to administer acupuncture, herbal cures, or other complementary practices that Cuban labs have found effective. And Cuban researchers develop their own vaccinations and treatments when medications aren’t available due to the blockade, or when they don’t exist.
Most important is the idea of medical care in the homes and neighborhoods, with friends and neighbors providing care. Socialized medicine, indeed.