Follow Cuban Health Model - Greenstreet

The 2016 flag bearer of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) has said that Ghana should follow the Cuban health model that requires compulsory annual health checks for all its citizens.

He made these comments to DAILY GUIDE concerning Cuba’s National Day of Rebellion which was marked by the Cuban Embassy in Accra on Tuesday, July 23.

This three-day national holiday is celebrated throughout Cuba. It commemorates an attack that took place on July 26, 1953, when rebel forces led by Fidel Castro struck the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Although the attack was unsuccessful, it is remembered as the beginning of the rebellion that eventually ousted the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

Mr Greenstreet said “…compulsory annual health checks and an integrated whole-person approach to healthcare may be too intrusive for some but is widely accepted in Cuba…the aim is to stop people from getting ill in the first place…”

It’s been said that “Cubans live like the poor and die like the rich” a reference to the fact that Cuba is a relatively poor nation, yet its disease profile matches that of richer countries because its people live longer.

In terms of having healthy people, the Cuban health service outperforms other low and medium income countries and in some cases, outperforms much richer ones too.

Despite spending a fraction of what the United States spends on healthcare (the World Bank reports that Cuba spends $431 per head every year compared with $8,553 in the US) Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the US and a similar life expectancy.

In the past, the World Health Organisation had praised the preventative nature of the Cuban health system and called on other countries to follow the Cuban example.

Healthcare in Cuba is free and universal, enshrined in the Cuban constitution as a fundamental human right guaranteed by the state. The foundation of their preventative healthcare model is at primary care level; the family doctors oversee the health of those who live around the clinic.

Cuba has lots of doctors. To serve its population of 11 million, the country has 90,000 of them. That’s eight for every 1,000 citizens – more than double the rate in the US and in the UK (the US has 2.5 doctors per 1,000, the UK 2.7 per 1,000 according to the World Bank).

Many of these doctors are based in neighbourhood medical centres and along with a nurse and support from visiting specialists; they monitor closely the health and wellbeing of every single Cuban.