Cuba’s health policies promote sustainable human development with the objectives of greater well-being and a higher quality of life, primarily in the areas of health, education, culture, employment, safety, and social welfare.
The National Health System is organized at three levels (national, provincial, and municipal), which mirror the country’s administrative structure.
The Cuban health system is financed by the State. The population receives free preventive, curative, and rehabilitation services, which range from primary care, routine medical attention, and dentistry to hospital care requiring the use of highly sophisticated medical technologies. In addition, all necessary diagnostic testing and drugs are provided free of charge to pregnant women and to persons receiving outpatient care in the context of certain programs.
Out-of-pocket expenditures for families include drugs prescribed for outpatient treatment, hearing aids, dental and orthopedic apparatuses, wheelchairs, crutches, and eyeglasses. The prices for all these items are low and are subsidized by the State.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Cuba provides a doctor for every 170 residents, and has the second highest doctor to patient ratio in the world.
The National Health System comprises a network of institutions that are easily accessible and provide coverage to 100% of the population. In 1996 the system included 66,263 hospital beds (6.0 per 1,000 inhabitants) and 14,265 beds in social welfare institutions (1.3 beds per 1,000 inhabitants). Medical care is provided through a network made up of 281 hospitals, 11 research institutes, 442 polyclinics, and a contingent of family doctors practicing in workplaces and schools in the community.
In addition, there are 164 health posts, 209 maternity homes, 26 blood banks, and 4 health spas. Oral health care is provided in 168 dental clinics. Social welfare services include 190 homes for the elderly and 27 homes for disabled persons of different ages and with various types of impairment. The family doctor and nurse program serves 97% of the Cuban population.
Cuba's core health strategy is prevention. From promoting exercise, hygiene and regular check-ups, the system is geared towards averting illnesses and treating them before they become advanced and costly.
Today, infectious diseases account for only.1% of deaths. In the past four decades these diseases have gradually been overtaken by noncommunicable diseases, which today account for more than 90% of deaths.
The reasons people die in Cuba tend to be the same as in high-income, developed, countries. The three leading causes of mortality are heart diseases, malignant neoplasms (cancer), and cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases, accounting for 58.9% of deaths.
The infant mortality rate in the year 2009 was 4.8 per 1,000 live births.
In Cuba, HIV/AIDS transmission is considered low, with an estimated prevalence in 2004 of 0.05%. The benefits of the HIV/AIDS program, which includes triple antiviral therapy, are provided free-of-charge to all people living with the disease.
Protection of the population against 13 vaccine-preventable diseases has resulted in the eradication of polio, diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, rubella, and neonatal tetanus.
WHO health statistics for Cuba:
Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 75/79
Healthy life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 67/70
Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 7
Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 populations): 127/82
Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2006): $363
Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2006): 7.1
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