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Not just salsa and cigars: mental health care in Cuba

  • S. R. Collinson (a1) and T. H. Turner (a2)
Extract

Given the marginal nature of psychiatry in terms of Western health priorities, it is always worth reviewing how countries with clearly different political systems treat their mentally ill. The 40-year economic embargo imposed by the USA on Cuba, the effects of which have been compounded by the hardships suffered during the ‘Special Period’ from 1989 onwards when the collapse of the Soviet Union left the island's economy in ruins (Pilling, 2001), is one of the most stringent of its kind. It prohibits the sale of food, and sharply restricts the sale of medicines and medical equipment, which, given the USA's pre-eminence in the pharmaceutical industry, effectively bars Cuba from purchasing nearly half of the new world class drugs on the market (Rojas Ochoa, 1997). Between 1989 and 1993, Cuba's gross domestic product fell by 35% and exports declined by 75% (Pan American Health Organisation, 1999). This has reduced the availability of resources and has adversely affected some health determinants and certain aspects of the population's health status. Despite this, however, Cuba has developed a system prioritised to primary and preventive care, with an infant mortality rate half that of the city of Washington, DC (World Health Organization & Pan American Health Organization, 1997; Casas et al, 2001). Furthermore, biotechnology and family medicine are being developed by Cuba as a human resource for other developing countries. Cuban medical schools also train physicians specifically for many developing countries around the world (Waitzkin et al, 1997).

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Casas, J. A., Dachs, J. N. W. & Bambas, A. (2001). Health disparities in Latin America and the Caribbean: the role of social and economic determinants. In Equity and Health: Views from the Pan American Sanitary Bureau. Occasional Publication No. 8. Washington, DC: PAHO.
Garfield, R. & Santana, S. (1997) The impact of the economic crisis and the US embargo on health in Cuba. American Journal of Public Health, 87(1), 1520.
Guevara, E. C. (1987) Speech on ‘Revolutionary Medicine’ given in Havana, August 19, 1960. ln Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution: Writings and Speeches of Ernesto Che Guevara. NewYork: Pathfinder/Pacific & Asian Press.
PAN American Health Organization (1999) Improving the health of the peoples of the Americas. Epidemiological Bulletin, 21(4), 206219.
PAN American Health Organization & World Health Organization (1998) Health in the Americas: Improving the Health of the Peoples of the Americas. Technical Report. Washington, DC: PAHO & WHO.
Pilling, D. (2001) Cuba's medical revolution. Financial Times Weekend, January 13–14, p.10.
Rojas Ochoa, F. (1997) Economy, politics and health status in Cuba. International Journal of Health Services, 27(4), 791807.
Waitzkin, H., Wald, K., Kee, R., et al (1997) Primary care in Cuba: low-and high-technology developments pertinent to family medicine. Journal of Family Practice, 45(3), 250258.
World Healthorganization & PAN Americal Health Organization (1997) American Association for World Health Report Executive summary. Denial of food and medicine: the impact of the US embargo on the health and nutrition in Cuba. American Association for World Health Quarterly, 111.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Not just salsa and cigars: mental health care in Cuba

  • S. R. Collinson (a1) and T. H. Turner (a2)
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