Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-94-127 Daily Report 30 Jun 1994 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro on Protection of Family Doctor Program

FL0107012694 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish 2300 GMT 30 Jun 94 FL0107012694 Havana Radio Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [Report by Eva Alvarez and Mariela Diaz from the Convention Palace in Havana; live -- passages within quotation marks recorded]

[Text] The commander in chief has presided over the historic, first family medicine congress since early this afternoon and, as announced in the headlines, he was given a diploma as founder and creator of the family doctor and nurse plan. Public Health Minister Julio Teja addressed the event's closure and asked the commander in chief, on behalf of the delegates, to address the plenary session. Fidel recalled the days when the family doctor and nurse plan was created, as follows:

[Castro] "I was touched when the diplomas and stamps were given out because I remembered the days when the first 10 doctors began at the [word indistinct] Polyclinic, and when the first doctors began... [pauses] they were also doctors but they were not directly in charge of the population. Instead, they studied the program that had been prepared. They studied and trained as family doctors at the polyclinics. There were two small groups -- I recall one was here in Havana and another one in Sancti Spiritus. It was not a single group; it was two groups, it was two groups. [repeats] Where? [unidentified speaker murmurs in the background] Well, in two places.

"I remember when we began the experiment with the doctors in the mountains because we conducted tests before going full steam ahead with this program. We wanted to test it; we wanted to see what happened. Therefore, we met constantly with the 10 doctors, and we asked them to tell us what happened, what was happening, how much confidence people had in them, if they were treated with consideration, if they were appreciated -- or if the people went to the polyclinic and the hospital. Based on the work carried out by those 10 doctors, we were able to observe that the population had welcomed them with enormous interest."

Delegates attending the first family medicine congress attentively followed Commander in Chief Fidel Castro's address at the closure of this meeting. Fidel, who founded the family doctor and nurse program, recalled how quickly the community doctor earned the people's acceptance.

[Castro] "It was obvious since the beginning that the people welcomed the family doctor with confidence. They no longer went to the polyclinic. In fact, one of the serious problems we had at the time was that no one trusted the polyclinics. They knew that personnel with more experience, meaning the professors, were at the hospitals. The hospitals' outpatient facilities were crowded. Based on that experience, we saw that instead of going to the polyclinic, the people went to visit the family doctors."

Commander in Chief Fidel Castro also confirmed that no capitalist mechanisms will be allowed into the Cuban health system.

[Castro] "I sincerely believe and am firmly convinced that we should never allow the introduction of private medical practice into Cuba or the polyclinics, hospitals, or any of those institutions because it would be incompatible. It would be the introduction of capitalist elements we have previously mentioned. There are two sacred things, two sacred achievements that should be maintained at all costs and under any circumstances, just as we developed and created them -- the right to health and to education."