My mate Gordon Mott was Chief Editor of Cigar Afficionado. And we both agree that a good cigar, a real Cuban Cohiba of course, has health giving properties and can be just what the doctor ordered at the end of a long day with a large glass of Cuba’s best Havana Club rum.
Did you know that Cuban life expectancy is approximately what you would expect in North America and Western Europe, and infant mortality in Cuba is lower than the USA?
And it’s a little known fact that Cuba has a surprisingly decent, if not a world-recognised health service and biotech industry. And healthcare is free for Cubans, unlike much of the rest of the world.
Cuba has about 70,000 doctors according to the World Bank. More than 20 percent of these great health soldiers are currently on medical missions helping the world in 66 countries and are often first on the scene at major disasters. Cuban doctors were among the first on the ground when Ebola struck West Africa. After the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 Cuba sent 2,400 medics to Pakistan and treated more than 70% of those affected. They also left behind 32 field hospitals and donated a thousand medical scholarships.
“They are often the first to arrive and the last to leave,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said of Cuban medical deployments. “They remain in place after the crises. Cuba can be proud of its healthcare system, a model for many countries.”
Some criticise the fact that physicians working in Cuba make just $30 a month but they are taught in medical school that the most important thing is the patient and the health of the people, not just Cubans, but people around the world. I hope not all of them want to become taxi drivers under the new private business ownership rules introduced last year.
Health tourism is on the rise: top doctors, for low prices, in a tropical climate with great beaches. Now that’s a great idea. $150 for a day of physiotherapy anyone?
Cuba’s even has a flourishing biotech industry. Cuban vaccines are sold around the world. And amazing new drugs are being developed for lung cancer, and a drug that can stop the transmission of AIDS from mothers to babies. A world first. Now these industries might have their challenges, in this case some serious challenges with marketing and distribution, but this will change. Cuba has to make many of its own drugs and that’s why they are so innovative. The world should take note on what they can do with so little.
I wish they’d sort out a cure for baldness (not that I worry about that any more.) That would eliminate the national debt in a nanosecond and probably make Cuba Inc. bigger than Apple and Google combined.
So don’t be fooled by the propaganda, this country’s enforced isolation, and tourist cliché image.
There are far more dimensions to Cuba than you might realise and thank goodness for their doctors, nurses and drug makers, and how they help us all.