164607 Totalitarian governments, healthcare, and the question of individual liberty: Case of Cuba and Venezuela

Monday, November 5, 2007

Belis M. Aladag, MD, MPH , Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Brooklyn, NY
This paper will be an analysis of the recent arrangements between Cuba and Venezuela regarding the extension of their primary health care systems to reach the poor. The positive strides towards equity that these two nations have thus far taken will be addressed but also the issue of human rights violations to bring to light the point that perhaps these 'solutions' are in a sense, 'too good to be true' in a democratic system. The main question will be whether or not totalitarianism exists in these environments and if so, if that is the main drive behind recent government policies to extend help to the impoverished. The issue of a lack of transparency in the Cuban government, and the implications of health indicators released will be addressed. Next, the paper will explore the healthcare situation in Venezuela in recent years with a focus on changes that have occurred since the agreements made with the Cuban government. A section will be devoted to the educational innovations Cuban doctors have brought forth to countries in Latin America and Africa. The feasibility of the Cuban exportation of medical expertise and manpower to countries in need will be discussed. Finally, the paper will consider the very serious matter of individual freedoms and the element of totalitarianism that may exist in these recent progressive arrangements in Venezuela and Cuba. The ultimate question will be, “At what price does all this good, free, and highly equitable healthcare come?”

Learning Objectives:
1. Evaluate the current political situation of healthcare in Venezuela. 2. Recognize the positive aspects of healthcare in a socialist context. 3. Discuss the pros and cons of such systems and extract the necessary lessons.

Keywords: Health Care Politics, Access to Health Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.