Several months ago, I traded e-mails with Katherine Hirschfeld, a University of Oklahoma professor who shared with me some information she had about my great-uncle Rolando Masferrer, and her insights about the Cuban health care system, based on her research on the island. On the latter, she indicated the official party line about Cubacare does not reflect the reality — especially if you are an average Cuban trying to survive.
Hirschfeld — who abandoned her role as researcher, and was “adopted” by a Cuban family, giving her a unique, more accurate perspective on Cuban life — expands on that conclusion, and more, in a new academic paper, “Re-examining the Cuban Health Care System,” published in the online journal, “Cuban Affairs,” published by the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.
A UM press release sums up Hirschfeld’s work:
Coral Gables, Fl.-Contrary to what Michael Moore’s documentary, “Sicko,” would lead you to believe, Cuba’s health care system is far from perfect.
Although it has long been praised as one of the revolution successes, Cuba’s health care system works for foreigners but often fails its own citizens. That is the conclusion of an article titled “Re-examining the Cuban Health Care System” included in the latest edition of the online journal, “Cuban Affairs,” published by the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.
The author, University of Oklahoma Professor Katherine Hirschfeld, spent nine months in the island living with a Cuban family and interviewing family doctors, medical specialists, social workers, nurses and patients as part of her research.
The article details the realities of the health system ”where the best clinics and hospitals only serve the political elites and foreigners and scarce medical supplies are often stolen from hospitals and sold on the black market.”
Through personal observations and interviews, Hirschfeld details the three levels of healthcare in Cuba. One for foreigners paying in hard currency; an excellent system with great equipment and medication. A second one for the military and high government and party officials. Again, this system is excellent. On the contrary, the one most Cubans deal with is poor; there is a shortage of equipment and medication; and now many of the physicians serving them are sent abroad for humanitarian purposes.