Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Public Health Work, Successes

FL141335 Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 1045 GMT 14 Jul 83

[Text] Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, first secretary of the party's
Central Committee and president of the Councils of State and Ministers,
yesterday called on physicians to become health militants. Fidel spoke
during the afternoon session of the first working day of the Fourth Session
of the Second Legislature of the National Assembly of the People's
Government [ANPP], which began yesterday at the Palace of Conventions.
During this session, the deputies unanimously approved the report and law
on public health, for which ANPP President Flavio Bravo made the following
introduction: [Begin recording] Among its objectives, this law, in general,
outlines the managing guidelines of the work that has to be developed in
the health system, standards for relations between state agencies and
bodies, and establishes the duties and rights of the people, of the Public
Health Ministry, and of the institutions and units comprising the national
health system. Not only does it represent the integration of the existing
proliferous and dispersed legislation, but it is also wholly conceived as a
national health system, because it totally regulates the fundamental
aspects of this state activity. It serves as superior standardizing
foundation for the complementary legislation that our public health's
immediate and future development will require, and which forces the
application of the health plans ordered by our party during the first and
second congresses. [end recording]

Likewise, Dr Sergio del Valle, member of the Politburo and minister of
public health, read a report on the accomplishments of his ministry. In the
report, Sergio del Valle noted the role played by the commander of chief in
the revolution that has taken place in the field of Cuban public health. He
said: [Begin recording] During the past few years, characterized by serious
economic difficulties we all know about, Comrade Fidel has given his
continued and personal support to help us obtain the resources needed by
our health institutions, and the most advanced technology for the care of
the people. He has been directly concerned with the construction of new
projects and the most just distribution among the country's provinces. He
has watched over the situation of the pharmaceutical products to see to it
that not a single essential medicament is missing, and has made every
effort to expand as much as possible the possibility of producing them in
the country.

He has prepared an integral policy of specialties. He has improved the
training of health personnel in all spheres. He has given us one more proof
of this creative intelligence with the establishment of the medical
sciences detachment and creation of internships in rural and municipal
hospitals. What we owe him in the ideological training of our leaders,
physicians, nurses, technicians, and other health workers is priceless.
This has already been manifested in an impressive spirit of
internationalist solidarity and willingness to serve any fraternal people
at any time and under any conditions. [end recording]

The public health minister's report notes the numerous gains made by our
country in that sphere during nearly 25 years of revolutionary experience.
Among the most relevant successes, he recalled that presently Cuba has
16,833 physicians, almost 4,000 dentists, more than 30,000 nurses, more
than 29,000 intermediate level health technicians and, in addition, has 256
hospitals, 397 polyclinics, 255 medical offices, 146 clinics, 21 blood
banks, and 81 maternal homes.

The report also points out that the child mortality rate has been reduced
to levels that can only be compared to those of developed countries. Life
expectancy at time of birth has been raised to 73.5 years. Some infectious
diseases have been eradicated and others are in the process of being
eradicated. Among the gains noted, it is reported that last year our people
benefited from medical care that included 49.4 million doctor's
appointments, and that the state spends more than 60 pesos annually per

[Begin Del Valle recording] Cuban public health will be known for its high
technical and scientific qualifications, its demanding organization, its
revelant ethical and humane values, its superior training in specialties,
its significant social equality, and its irrevocable internationalist
nature, and for the determined participation of all the people. Only in
that way can we become the medical superpower that Fidel, the people, and
mankind long for from Cuba. [end recording]

Deputy Jorge Enrique Mendoza, member of the party's Central Committee,
referred to the report submitted by the public health minister this way:
[Begin recording] It was really very emotional to hear Comrade Sergio Del
Valle's report, because of its depth and the importance of the contents and
because of Comrade Del Valle's modesty. I believe that this recognition of
Comrade Fidel's work for Cuba and the world should be recorded by the
National Assembly as one of the most beloved documents. The speech by the
minister of public health was even more brilliant because our public health
minister is the heroic physician who, while in the Sierra [Maestra mountain
range] and after the battles, remained in no man's land caring for the
wounded of the rebel army and those of the enemy. [applause] The man who
made the speech also has the immense glory of having been the personal
physician of Camilo Cienfuegos. [end recording]

Later in the day, Fidel made a speech in response to the optimistic
evaluation of one of the deputies. He noted that the gains listed in the
report are doubtlessly remarkable because they took place during the most
difficult year. [Begin recording] As we move into the future, the gains
attained so far should serve us as an example to continue to redouble
efforts in this field. In addition, we must ponder the new problems that we
will have to confront in future years. We have already eliminated many
diseases. we have greatly reduced the child mortality rate. According to
what Sergio explained, this year we are averaging around 15.2 [no
explanation given for the figure] We do not yet know the final result.

I believe that all the intensive care we have extended this year will help
the statistics by about 1.23 annually in the child mortality rate. We are
reaching top figures in many aspects. The director of the World Health
Organization explained to me that we could have other types of health
problems, the problems being faced by a developed country, such as
different types of illnesses, cardiovascular diseases, circulatory
diseases, cancer.

The life expectancy is higher, the number of aged requiring care is
greater, new specialties have to be developed, there must be prevention,
education of the people in health problems, struggle against sedentariness,
obesity. All those things become more numerous. I believe that if the
masses participated in this battle, we will also need the participation of
the mass in this phase.

There are still many fields to develop. Perhaps we will need better
sanitary education for the people. We will need certain resources that some
countries are trying to develop, such as teaching everyone what to do in
the case of cardiac arrest. Something that a person standing by could do,
when the victim's salvation might depend on being resuscitated, revived on
the spot. With the mass organizations, the means of mass dissemination,
television, and printed press we have, we could move forward in that sense.
The physician should become a militant, a health militant. He must be the
citizen's adviser, the family's adviser, on everything that affects health,
everything that could contribute to improving the living conditions,
prolonging life. [end recording]

Fidel indicated that next to the training of medical personnel, we have to
work hard in the development of the pharmaceutical industry. He added that
in the future there is a possibility of developing the production of
medical equipment and, in that sense, we have to train highly qualified

The commander in chief stressed that the revolution has many hopes in the
quality of future physicians and their training programs. [Begin recording)
If we estimate that presently we are graduating about 2,000 students, by
1988 and the year 2000 we will graduate 50,000 physicians. Then we will
have large numbers available for international cooperation, much greater
numbers than we have today. [end recording]

He spoke about the great humane and professional quality demonstrated by
our internationalist physicians and the excellent willingness to help they
possess. [Begin recording] The leap in quality that our system can take
would be enormous in the next 15 and 20 years. I believe that the legacy
that the revolution will give future generations in the field of medicine
is something really valuable, really precious. [end recording]

In closing, Fidel noted that the recently concluded international
conference "Health for Everybody: 25 years of the Cuban Experience" had
demonstrated that the underdeveloped countries see Cuba as an example of
political will, something that is necessary to carry out a revolution in
the field of health such as we presently have. [Begin recording] I believe
that this contact we have had in the area of health, this interest of the
delegates, this cooperation, this support, must be maintained. That is one
of the lessons learned. The second thing is that the enthusiasm, the
emotion about which the comrade was speaking, must be turned into energy,
into purpose. We must continue on this path and multiply our efforts in the
field of health, aware of what we have accomplished and what has to be
accomplished and the great things we can accomplish in future years. [end

Yesterday's session approved a declaration which constitues a strong appeal
for peace, against the threat of a nuclear holocaust by the Cuban
parliament. In addition, the decree laws signed by the president of the
Council of State were approved. The interpretation of Article No 50 of the
republic's Constitution, the report on the liquidation of the 1982 budget,
and reports from provincial assemblies -- with a special speech by the
president of the Provincial Assembly of the People's Government in Santiago
de Cuba -- People's Supreme Court, and Office of the Attorney General of
the Republic will be taken up during today's sessions.