Ebola, Cuba, and a dumb question

The world’s effort against Ebola is being led by Cuba. Here you will find these words:

But, in a sense, all of these countries are following the lead of Cuba. On September 12th, President Raúl Castro’s health minister announced that Cuba would send nearly five hundred health-care professionals to West Africa. Since then, a hundred and sixty-five Cubans have arrived in Sierra Leone and a second group of eighty-three have arrived in Liberia and Guinea; two hundred more are expected. No other country, to date, has contributed as many trained health-care professionals to the Ebola crisis as Cuba has. (The closest parallel to Cuba’s effort may be Doctors Without Borders, the French-based humanitarian organization, which currently has more than two hundred and fifty international medical staff in the region, as well as more than three thousand local workers.)

If you click on this link, you will find these words:

In 2003 Cuba had the lowest HIV prevalence in the Americas and one of the lowest in the world.

and these:

Cuba began a food rationing program in 1962 to guarantee all citizens a low-priced basket of basic foods. As of 2007, the government was spending about $1 billion annually to subsidise the food ration. The ration would cost about $50 at an average grocery store in the United States, but the Cuban citizen pays only $1.20 for it.

Cuba achieves these goals more efficiently and more cheaply than the USA. If you click here, you will find these words:

Health care in Cuba consists of a government-coordinated system that guarantees universal coverage and consumes a lower proportion of the nation’s GDP (7.3%) than some highly privatised systems (e.g. USA: 16%) (OECD 2008).

Cuba teaches and sends doctors all over the world. If you click this link, you will find these words:

Cuba provides more medical personnel to the developing world than all the G8 countries combined.

On top of all that, Cuba has been active internationally on other fronts. For a military history of Cuba (which had surprises for me, I had no idea they were that involved outside the Caribbean) go to this link.

So what, you might say. Well, now it’s time for the dumb questions.

How come, while MSF upbraided the WHO for their inaction on Ebola, and mobilized themselves, how come Cuba is way ahead of the pack? Is this a rich nation? No. Is this a democracy demonstrating its superiority? Not that either. Surely it can’t be simple humanitarianism, eh?

How come health care in Cuba is universal, cheap, and efficient? Since we all know it can’t be done in the USA and Canada’s success is supposedly a misunderstanding. (It is not.) Could it be that the pharmaceutical companies lobby to keep costs and profits high, whereas Cuban government aims are humanitarian?

How come nobody goes hungry in Cuba?

How come Cuba provides so many medical personnel to the developing world? Are G8 citizens of a lower level of humanitarianism?

Cuba’s military history is fascinating, and I will not attempt to summarize it here. They have helped other countries in significant ways, sometimes from far away. If you dig deeper into the Angola mess, you’ll find that even getting airplanes there was a challenge – but the Cubans did it.

So, Cuba is leading the world toward containment of Ebola, leads the world in domestic health care, leads the world in feeding the poor at home, and leads the world in international health care generally.

Is this why the USA hates them? That’s the final Dumb Question.

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