Online Program

Cuban healthcare paradox: How they deliver quality, world-class healthcare at the lowest cost per capita

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dorothy Zeviar, EdD, LAc, MPH, CPH, Nutrition department, University of Western States, Camas, WA
Vina HuLamm, MS, American Public Health Association, Washington, DC
As one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, Cuba has provided universal healthcare (and education) to all its citizens since the Revolution in the 1960's. The GapMinder graph in the center of the poster plots life expectancy against GDP for most world countries. As the reader can see, Cuba's life expectancy (and other health data) rivals that of the US with a significantly less robust GDP and lower health expenditures per capita. How is Cuba able to do this? What lessons can we take from the Cuban healthcare system and apply to ObamaCare? In winter 2011, a group of US-based Public Health workers and students visited Havana, Cuba to observe the Cuban healthcare system (which is the public health system). We witnessed how the structure of the Cuban healthcare system, its system of medical training, and its neighborhood reliance on consultorias and preventive care is able to deliver high-quality healthcare at a modest cost per capita. The results, as depicted by the data, include lower infant and child mortality, nearly 97% literacy rate, and under 12% of GDP costs of providing universal healthcare. By focusing healthcare resources primarily on preventive care, Cuba is able to maximize its resource applications, and produce health outcomes that rival those of any Western country, including the US. We in Public Health can take the leadership in this endeavor to encourage healthcare policies that focus on prevention and not just disease-management.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe how Cuba is able to provide universal healthcare to all its citizens at a much lower cost per capita than that of any other “developed” Western country. Explain how a healthcare system based primarily on prevention is as robust and efficacious as one based on disease management. Lobby for healthcare policy that encompasses and encourages prevention behaviors as well as disease-management activities.

Keyword(s): Health Advocacy, International Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Global Health Manager at APHA.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.