Sobre o miserável sistema de saúde cubano

The "Cuban miracle," as Harris puts it, rests on the prevention, rather than treatment of disease. And for good reason! Treatment of disease requires advanced prescription drugs and expensive medical equipment that have to be purchased in the capitalist West. And how can an inefficient socialist economy produce enough foreign currency to afford such purchases? It cannot.


As Matus Posvanc, an economist who works for the Hayek Foundation in Slovakia, wrote to me after his recent trip to Cuba, "The people have no access to prescription drugs. The pharmacies are empty of even the most basic medicine. In fact, I had to help a Cuban lady buy drugs at a special clinic that has wonderful facilities and is well stocked with drugs. That clinic, however, only caters to tourists and prominent members of the Cuban Communist Party." Other acquaintances, who have been to Cuba, found that the locals had to supply their own medicines and linen, because hospitals simply did not have them.

Both of my parents are medical doctors and I grew up in communist Czechoslovakia. As such, I find the problems of the Cuban healthcare system very familiar. As in Cuba, so in Czechoslovakia and throughout the supposedly egalitarian Soviet bloc, the prominent members of the Communist Party enjoyed superior healthcare in special hospitals or hospital wards. As in Cuba, the lack of hard currency resulted in the shortage of medicines, which had to be bought on the black market. As in Cuba, the availability of advanced medical technology was low. Socialism, it turns out, does not work no matter where you go -- Central Europe or the Caribbean.

In an article in the British daily The Guardian, Harris recently opined, "Cuba may look forlorn, all peeling buildings and pockmarked roads. Its economy may have long since tumbled into creaking anarchy. But unlike the old states of Eastern Europe, the revolution has a few genuine jewels to defend: chiefly, its education system, and globally acclaimed healthcare."

Strange, the superiority of communist healthcare was exactly what the Western socialists, like Harris, raved about during the Cold War. When the Berlin Wall fell and with it the veil of ignorance that shrouded the life behind the Iron Curtain, communist healthcare came to be seen for what it really was: far from equal and far from excellent. The same, I suspect, will become obvious in Cuba once the Castro brothers finally depart.