Cuba Presents Bold Plan for a Comprehensive Health Care System in Haiti

Statement of Cuban Foreign Minister at March 31, 2010 UN Donors Meeting on Haiti
 
Granma International, April 1 2010, http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2010/abril/juev1/bruno.html

Statement of H.E. Bruno Rodríguez Parilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Cuba at the Haiti Donors Meeting United Nations Headquarters, New York, 31 March, 2010.

Mr. President,

The international community has a tremendous debt with Haiti where, after three centuries of colonialism, the first social revolution on the American continent took place, an act of boldness that the colonial powers punished with close to 200 years of military dictatorships and plunder. Its noble and hardworking people are now the poorest in the Western hemisphere.

We all have the moral obligation to contribute additional financial resources and greater cooperation to Haiti, not only for its reconstruction but, in particular, for its development.

In order to have an idea of the magnitude of the human tragedy in Haiti, suffice it to note that the death of 230,000 people in its small and high-density population, is equivalent to the death of more than 30 million people in a country such as China, whose population reaches a total of 1.3 billion inhabitants; an unimaginable tragedy.

In the wake of this devastating earthquake that shook the conscience of humanity, we trust that the numerous promises heard will be converted into action, that Haiti’s independence and sovereignty will be respected and ennobled, that the government of President René Préval and Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive will be facilitated to exercise all its faculties, and that it will be able to benefit, not the whites and foreign companies, but the Haitian people, especially the poorest.

Generosity and political will is needed. Also needed is the unity of that country instead of its division into market plots and dubious charitable projects.

The program for the reconstruction and strengthening of the Haitian national healthcare system, drawn up by the Haitian government and Cuban governments, with the cooperation of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and other countries and humanitarian organizations, will guarantee wide health coverage for the population, in particular the low-income sector.

That program is based on 101 primary healthcare centers which are being created, at which an estimated 2.8 million patients will be treated, 1.3 million emergency operations performed, 168,000 babies delivered, and 3 million vaccinations administered every year.

These health centers will be supported by the services of 30 community reference hospitals distributed throughout the country and equipped with cutting-edge technology for secondary attention, which can treat 2.154 million people per year, perform 54,000 operations – 1 million of these emergency surgery –, 276,000 electro-cardiograms, 144,000 diagnostic ultrasounds, 43,000 endoscopies, 181,000 X-Rays, 107,000 dental examinations, and 487,000 laboratory tests.

Given the extraordinary number of poly-traumatized patients, 30 rehabilitation rooms are likewise being equipped which, within 12 months, will provide services for 520,000 patients and 2.4 million therapeutic treatments.

There will also be three electromedicine centers, a prosthesis laboratory and an integral hygiene and epidemiology program.

Also planned is a Haitian National Specialties Hospital at tertiary level, involving cooperation from other countries, directed by 80 high-level Cuban specialists responsible for services and clinical departments, research and teaching, and Haitian professionals who will be trained at the institution and progressively replace the Cuban medical professors.

The cost of the already mentioned services will amount to $690.5 million over 10 years, a total that includes the medical services provided, calculated at 50% of international prices; the sustainability of these services and the personnel providing them; and the training of a further 312 Haitian doctors in Cuba.

As can be deduced, the approximate cost is $170 million per year for a country of approximately 9.33 million inhabitants.

It is possible to do this. Our practical experience confirms it. In fact, this program is already underway and, post-quake, 23 of these primary care health centers, 15 community reference hospitals and 21 rehabilitation rooms are up and running.

From almost immediately after the earthquake, Cuban specialists have been dedicating their attention to the population affected. To date they have seen 260,000 patients, performed more than 7,000 operations, delivered close to 1,400 babies, and administered close to 100,000 vaccinations. More than 50,000 patients have undergone rehabilitation therapy and more than 75,000 children have received psychosocial therapy, in the presence of some of Cuba’s most eminent professionals.

A total of 783 Cuban and 481 Haitian doctors, plus 278 health professionals from 28 countries – all of them graduated in Cuba – are working on this program.

Last Saturday [March 27], as part of the program outlined, a memorandum of understanding for the strengthening of the healthcare and public services system and epidemiological prevention was signed in Port-au-Prince, thanks to the will of the Haitian government and a significant contribution from President Lula and Brazil, which will be decisive for the planned healthcare program.

During the 11 years of work prior to the earthquake, the Cuban medical brigade, which has a presence in
127 of the 137 Haitian communes, saved 223,442 lives, treated 14 million people, performed 225,000 operations and delivered 109,000 babies. Via the Operation Miracle program, 46,000 Haitians have had their sight restored or improved. During the same period, 165,000 Haitians have become literate in Creole.

If we evaluate the medical services provided in these 11 years and the training of medical personnel in Cuba, it would represent $400 million throughout the period.

The medical program that we are proposing, in its entirety, will benefit 75% of the poorest population of the country at a minimum expense.

We invite all governments, without exception, to contribute to this noble effort. For that reason, we attribute particular importance to this conference, and aspire to its success.

Thank you very much.