Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC



Castro on Health Care at Ameijeiras Hospital
Havana Cuba Vision Network

Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     FL0712142092
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-92-238          Report Date:    10 Dec 92
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     1
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       5
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   

Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       05 Dec 92
Report Volume:       Vol VI No 238


City/Source of Document:   Havana Cuba Vision Network 

Report Name:   Latin America 

Headline:   Castro on Health Care at Ameijeiras Hospital 

Author(s):   Cuban President Fidel Castro at 10th anniversary ceremony at
Hermanos Ameijeiras Clinical Surgical Hospital in Havana on 3

Source Line:   FL0712142092 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0229 GMT 5
Dec 92 

Subslug:   [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at 10th anniversary ceremony
at Hermanos Ameijeiras Clinical Surgical Hospital in Havana on 3

FULL TEXT OF ARTICLE: 1.  [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at 10th
anniversary ceremony at Hermanos Ameijeiras Clinical Surgical Hospital in
Havana on 3 December-recorded] 

2.  [Text] [Castro] We can say that millions of people in this
municipality-counting the ones from the municipality, the province, and the
whole country-have received services from this hospital in a direct manner. I
believe that over 2 million people have been treated in this hospital. The fact
that over 100,000 major surgical procedures have been conducted is also very
impressive, as well as the tens of thousands of minor, less important surgical
procedures conducted at other hospitals. Millions of people have also received
here the services of computerized axial tomography or different investigative
and diagnostic methods. I understand that tens of thousands....[pauses]
[Hospital Director Raul Gomez] Cabrera, I do not remember what figure you
mentioned regarding lithotripsy. How many? Nine thousand for lithotripsy. And
over 30,000 for nuclear magnetic resonance. Is that right? Thirty-seven
thousand people have received nuclear magnetic resonance services. 

3.  In other words, this center has earned the affection, recognition, and
respect of all the people for the work conducted, for the optimum use of its
resources, for the meticulous medical care provided here, for your careful
maintenance of this facility nd its equipment, for the very high number of
professionals [words indistinct] of different types, professionals from this
hospital as well as professional from throughout Cuba, as well as foreign

4.  This center has not only been fulfilling all our expectations, but [words
indistinct]. This is why the number of delegations that have visited this
hospital is so high.  Cabrera mentioned that over 40,000 foreigners have
visited the Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital. There is practically not a single
delegation that visits Cuba which, whenever we want to show our achievements in
health care, does not come to the Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital. 

5.  We have to keep in mind that the idea that hospitals had to conduct
research was implemented [here] first, the idea that all major hospitals had to
conduct research, and in that regard, this hospital followed that path and set
an example for other institutions in Cuba. This also was the first hospital to
have its own maintenance workshop.  This idea has been followed by many other
Cuban hospitals, and these workshops have helped in solving countless problems.
We have to keep in mind that the Havana's electro-medicine center has not been
built.  Almost every province has its own electro-medicine center, but the
capital does not. Nevertheless, you have managed to maintain almost 100 percent
of the equipment in working order despite its age. This is thanks, precisely,
to the workshop, the very careful work done, and the innovators' and efficiency
experts' efforts. 

6.  Through this hospital, very advanced techniques have been introduced in
terms of diagnosis and patient care.  [Words indistinct] the most modern
scientific development [words indistinct] in the provinces. We have to say that
Ameijeiras Hospital is the nly hospital that has nuclear magnetic resonance of
this quality and efficiency, but it served as an inspiration for our scientists
to begin working on developing nuclear magnetic resonance. In Santiago de Cuba,
they already have a Cuban-made nuclear magnetic resonance machine, developed in

7.  It can be said that our medicine in general has progressed a lot in these
10 years. Really, the idea of our becoming a medical power has become a reality
in these 10 years.  We are also becoming a power in the medical sciences, and a
power in science in general. One of the fields in which we have made the most
progress is precisely the field of medicine. We are making a lot of progress in
the fields of biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry. 

8.  Why, in spite of our progress in the field of the pharmaceutical industry,
do we not have all the medicines we need? Because no country can produce all
its medicines.  Many medicines must be imported in any case, or if they are
generic drugs they must e reformulated. The raw materials must be imported. 

9.  They must be processed. We have worked in all these fields. The technical
medical laboratory has worked on this a lot. If we produce many of those
generic drugs here we will reduce the costs, and they are working on hundreds
of medical products with these generic drugs, to work with them here and
produce them here after importing the raw materials. But this is a complex

10.  But in addition, we are producing new medicines. We export new medicines,
and we import medicines that we do not and cannot produce in this country.
There are some medicines that are cheaper to import than to produce. There are
others that we cannot produce because they are complex or because you need
quite sophisticated factories to produce them. So because of that, on the one
hand we can say that we are developing the pharmaceutical industry and
exporting drugs, and on the other hand, we hear that we lack medicines. 

11.  In spite of the efforts we are making, really these medicines are lacking
primarily because of the country's shortage of resources, and the country has
asked that they be used for those drugs that are essential. Nevertheless, we
are working. We are making a great effort to try to maintain the availability
of these medicines. 

12.  There are many things we need. We need to keep the lights on; we need to
keep the machines and factories working. The amount of resources that we have
to invest on fuel is very large. An extraordinary portion of our resources has
to be invested on fuel. Another substantial portion has to be invested on
medicine; another portion must be invested especially on food. In other words,
we have to manage our scarce resources so that we can continue taking care of
the top priorities, the essential needs of he country during this hard special
period we are experiencing. 

13.  However, proof of what man is able to accomplish resides in the fact that
the quality of our medical services has not dropped. Despite the special
period, the quality of our medical services continues to increase. The number
of doctors and health care workers continues to grow. The level of experience
of those doctor and health care workers continues to increase. 

14.  A good example of this is that no one knew what was going to happen to the
infant mortality rates during the special period. It was thought that infant
mortality might increase due to all the shortages that we have. In fact, infant
mortality has not increased. Infant mortality continues to drop. [applause] 

15.  Yesterday, the comrade from Granma Province explained that despite having
shortages of 300 medicines, Granma's infant mortality rate-and do not forget it
was one of the poorest regions of Cuba-this year dropped below 10 [per 1,000
live births]. This is truly amazing. You know that in the mountains and rural
areas of that province, people died, children died without any medical care.
Although the national average was approximately 60, that province may possibly
have had around 100. [passage indistinct] Infant mortality in Granma, I repeat,
is below 10. I believe that Villa Clara Province had an infant mortality rate
of 6.8, below seven, if I remember correctly. Nationally, infant mortality was-
according to news reports-about 10.4 or 10.5, when last year it was 10.7. We
will wait for the end of the year, we will wait for 31 December, and we expect
that at the end, on 31 December, we will have a rate two or three tenths less
than the rate we had in 1991. I think this says a lot about what our medical
services are like, about the efforts of the men and women-or better said, the
women and men-who work in the health care services, [applause] because women
are in the majority in this sector. The other health indicators show similar
behavior in ur country. 

16.  But you can see that there are very few countries that have infant
mortality rates of less than 10. They are very rich, very developed countries.
Infant mortality in the capital of the United States is more than 30 per 1,000
live births, more than 30 n spite of all the empire's resources. We are nearing
10, in spite of the embargo, in spite of our enormous difficulties, and in
spite of the special period. I think that this rate, this detail, is really
very revealing, and it is a reason for warmly congratulating all our doctors,
our health care personnel, on this Latin American Health Day. [applause]
Because our health indicators are the best in Latin America, the best in the
Third World, and among the best in the world.  [applause] 

17.  I am sure that in no other country in the world do all the citizens have
the same rights and the same possibility of receiving top health care as in
Cuba. There are capitalist countries that have high health care levels but
where those high health care levels are for the rich. There are many wealthy
capitalist countries where there might be hospitals similar to this one, but
not hospitals where the people are treated with the selflessness and love with
which patients are treated in this hospital 

and the rest of the hospitals in Cuba. [applause] There might be hospitals like
this one, but only for millionaires, only for the very rich. The people, the
workers, the poor, people on fixed incomes, the elderly, or children and young
people from poor families are not treated at hospitals like this one. The
unique characteristic of this hospital is that it is open to every citizen of
Cuba. [applause] 

18.  For this reason we were reflecting on [words indistinct] of the industry
[words indistinct]. It seems that [words indistinct] made by the chemical,
energy, and mining (?official) when he said that thanks to the Revolution, any
humble worker can receive the services of this hospital. Now, Gomez Cabrera
spoke about their plans to become self-financed. When we talk about
self-financing we are talking hard currency, because you can imagine the cost
of a hospital such as this one-all the equipment and its spare parts, reagents,
medical supplies. He was not speaking about self-financing the general cost of
the hospital. He was talking about self-financing in hard currency. 

19.  How can you manage to collect $1 million, $2 million, or $3 million to
keep the hospital in operation, to buy the parts, reagents, and equipment you
need? We have tried to have all those hospitals that are in a position to do
so, all those that can, obtain some income in hard currency to help in
financing themselves. This is not easy, and they will not be able to finance
themselves entirely. But if they devote 100 beds to this goal, it will mean
medicines and funds to cover the other 800 beds. 

20.  This is very important, and of course, with the prestige this hospital
has, I have no doubt that little by little you will reach this goal. But look,
there will be 800 beds for Cubans and 100 beds for foreigners. Now, the medical
care these foreigners receive and pay for is the same medical care that is
provided for the other 800 beds, for Cuban citizens. I think this hospital has
set an example and has given an incentive to many other institutions. 

21.  In general, there is a scientific effervescence throughout the country,
everywhere, in all the provinces. The number of doctors is growing. The number
of family doctors is increasing. It will continue to increase in the coming
years. In no other country in a special period, in no other country with the
difficulties Cuba has, could the number of doctors continue to increase. They
would have to say to those who are graduating from the medical colleges and
schools that they do not have jobs. 

22.  But precisely because of the advantages of our socialist system, the
advantages of our revolutionary system, we can, in the midst of enormous
difficulties, in the midst of the special period, afford not to throw any
worker out on the street. We can afford not to close a single hospital. 
[applause] We can afford not to close a single polyclinic.  We can afford not
to close a single family doctor's office.  On the contrary, we can say that
every year we have more family doctor's offices. Every year, we have more
family doctors and nurses. When we have not been able to built new medical
offices, we have assigned two doctors to the same office, one in the morning
and the other in the afternoon. Or we have sent them to a factory, or a school,
or a childcare center. 

23.  Only a country with a just social system, only a country with a
revolutionary system, can do this. For this same reason, not a single school
has been closed, and every time that a new teacher graduates, he is not sent to
the streets, he has a (?job). eachers are allowed to study and improve
themselves, but they are not left on the streets.  Also, for this reason, not a
single school has been closed in Cuba. 

24.  What do they lament in Latin America? That hospitals are being closed,
school are being closed. This is the neoconservative policy imperialism
advocates so that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. 

25.  What do they lament? That doctors are unemployed, nurses are unemployed,
and teachers are unemployed.  What do they lament? That everything is
deteriorating in terms of social assistance. Why did Bush lose the elections?
Not only for the many reasons or which he lost, or for which he deserved to
lose. He lost the elections because in the United States they neglected health
services, education, unemployment, and social injustice too long. For this
reason, all the lower-income people, all those who are most discriminated
against, all those exploited people voted en masse against Bush in the United

26.  However, this country, embargoed by imperialism, a country under siege,
can do things that no other Latin American country can do, things not even the
United States can do. [applause] This is the significance of the Revolution.
This is the significance of socialism. This is the reason that we have to
defend it at any cost, because we can not resign ourselves to living in a
unfair society.  We can not resign ourselves to living in a society of
exploitation. For this reason, regardless of the ifficulties, regardless of the
sacrifices, we will defend the Revolution and we will defend socialism.
[applause] For the success of these 10 years, for Latin American Medicine Day,
for that morale and that spirit I congratulate all of you. [applause] Socialism
or death, fatherland or death, we will win! [applause]