Some years ago during a time of personal stress, I decided to take a three month sabbatical to Cuba (three months is the maximum allowed with a normal visa). When I arrived, I was searched thoroughly by customs and relieved of several boxes of shop bought painkillers normally reserved for hangovers. Brand new to the country and aware that to cause a fuss of any kind would see me on the next plane home at best, I decided to smile and move on to the good life that I hoped awaited me.
As everyone knows Fidel Castro’s revolution left the country isolated from its former best friend, The United States of America, to be welcomed by the USSR.
With time and the slow demise of their communist allies, Imedical Healthcare Solutions Cuba found themselves in short supply of everything except tobacco and sugar beet.
The medical services of Cuba were of course no exception to the country’s plight. Something had to be done and quickly. The whole system had to be revamped – an alternative health care was needed.
Nursing care was, however, not a problem. Any young woman without employment was virtually press-ganged into the nursing profession. There were more nurses than patients in the land that boasts full employment. Doctors too were abundant; hundreds of competent medical professionals bolstered the service.
The massive problem was that sanctions imposed by the USA after the successful communist revolution stopped imports of drugs to the island state. None of the companies from virtually anywhere in America or Europe did business with Cuba.
The country decided to take a new approach to the rest of the world. Firstly it was decided that if the people didn’t get ill, they wouldn’t need the drugs to make them better. Physical fitness became almost obligatory, no matter what the age of the citizen. Early diagnosis was promoted – the sooner that you knew about a problem, then the smaller that problem and therefore, the easier it would be to cure.
Old remedies for illness were resurrected; herbs and homeopathic treatments were used to great effect. Specialists from Asia were drafted in to teach the art of acupuncture (still looked upon as one of the black arts at that time in the USA and Europe). Soon major surgery was being performed without the products of a single drug company being involved. Many simpler drugs were copied and manufactured, but alternative health care was the main thrust for Cuba.
Recently, as time has healed many of the wounds of the past, groups of medical professionals from around the world have been invited into Cuba and have been able to learn a different method of patient treatment. It is not always necessary to use expensive drugs to facilitate a medical solution; other methods can be employed to achieve the same, or a better result.