2006-05-20 02:58:51 UTC
While it is possible to dismiss the parts in the article below re
certainty / anticipation / prediction of raising average Cuban life
expectancy to 80+ years in the very near future, and while may consider
life expectancy of 120 years (like the Maltese Falcon) "the stuff that
dreams are made of," one thing is impossible to dismiss without
sticking one's head in the sand (Footnote: or is it in the mud normally
used for slinging at the Cuban Revolution, its leaders and/or
accomplishments?) : the statistic of CURRENT average Cuban life
expectancy of 77+ years, a statistic for which there is a virtual
consensus including those supporting the Cuban Revolution (e.g., Granma
newspaper, which in many senses has been the voice of the Cuban
Revolution), those claiming political neturality (e.g., the United
Nations' World Health Organization, Pan-American Health Organization,
etc.), and those working overtime trying to overthrow the Cuban
Revolution (e.g., the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, in statistics
contained in the C.I.A. World Factbook).
When one considers that Cuba has few or none of the modern
multi-million-dollar "medical machines" common in U.S. and E.U.
hospitals (e.g., CAT scanners, MRI machines, etc.), it is all the more
impressive that Cuba is currently only very slightly behind the U.S.
and E.U. nations in average life expectancy (and other quiality of
life) statistics. Moreover, as I observed when viewing half-empty
Cuban hospital pharmacy shelves (even before I had taken nursing
courses and was thus neither interested in doing nor trained to do a
scientific and systematic search concerning this subject), there are
periodic (and, sometimes, perennial shortages) of many medicines
(including aspirin, which most Amercans take for granted).
Moreover, unlike the United States, where 40 million people have no
health insurance whatsoever, and most of the remainder pays a
significant proportion of their salary and/or Social Security benefits
for health care related expenses, Cuba has the highest proportion of
doctors to population in the world, and unlike the countries of the
capitalist world (even those, unlike the United States, with some
national health care program) available to people regardless of income
level: In Cuba, not only is health care FREE for all its citizens. but
education (from grade school through grad school!) is tuition-free.
Unlike the United States, where doctors who go out on "house calls"
are increasingly uncommon, in Cuba there is not a nationwide system of
family doctors and local clinics, but there also is an emphasis on
preventative medicine (instead of merely attempting to cure those who
are already sick). And there are about 15,000 Cuban doctors in
Venezuela (not to mention a few thousand in a list of other "Third
World" countries) volunteering to give health care principally to the
poor. (Tiny and relatively poor Cuba has more doctors volunteering
abroad than the World Health Organization.) Therefore, I disagree with
the editors of Granma; my choice of headline would be: "Life expectancy
in Cuba is now 77+ years."
Havana. May 19, 2006
Life expectancy in Cuba soon to be 80 years
BY NAVIL GARCIA ALFONSO-Granma International staff writer-
AGING with health is the maxim of the 4th International Conference on
Satisfactory Longevity: an Integral Vision, which took place in
Cuba's Hotel Nacional, sponsored by the Caribbean Medical Association
and the 120 Years Club.
Doctor Eugenio Selman-Houssein Abdo highlighted the conditions
developed in Cuba to maintain good quality of life conditions,
including nutrition, health, physical activity, culture, motivation
and the environment.
"Cuba guarantees education and healthcare free of charge; full access
to sports and culture; it promotes healthy eating and keeps elderly
people motivated through their association with senior citizen
centers," Selman noted. "We also have a high-quality health
infrastructure that includes 430 multi-disciplinary teams for
gerontology services and a pharmaceutical industry that produces 80%
of the medications used in the country."
That combination of factors will soon make it possible for life
expectancy in Cuba, currently at 77 years, to reach 80 years,
according to Doctor Alberto Fernández Seco, director of the National
Program for Attention to Older Adults.
However, noted Fernández Seco, the aging of the population increases
the risks for disabilities and illnesses that come with it, which
requires specialized medical services for long-term patient care.
Several seniors who are considered stars of Cuban sport shared their
experiences and the importance of physical exercise for staying
They included boxer Orlando Martínez, the first Olympic gold medalist
of the Revolution's sports programs, and baseball players Máximo
García and Pedro Almenares, who left professional baseball to join
the Revolution's sports movement.
José Ramón Fernández, president of the Cuban Olympic Committee,
that one main goal is for older athletes to stay active, so that they
can help develop the nation's sports with their valuable experience.
Likewise, he highlighted the importance of exercise as a guarantee
for reaching 120 years with a life that is pleasant, lucid and