XXXXXXXXXXXX stated that Cuban authorities have banned Michael Moore’s documentary, “Sicko,” as being subversive. Although the film’s intent is to discredit the U.S. healthcare system by highlighting the excellence of the Cuban system, he said the regime knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them. When the FSHP showed Sicko to a group of XXXXXXXXXXXX, some became so disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba that they left the room.
– According to a local pediatrician, the approximate breakdown of Cuban physicians’ salaries are: 1st & 2nd year residences earn 325 pesos monthly (USD 15.00); 3rd year residences earn 355 (USD 16.00); 4th year residences (specialists) earn 400 pesos monthly (USD 18.00). For every four years of medical practice thereafter, a physician receives an additional 20 pesos (USD 0.89 cents) per month.
– There is reportedly such a shortage of nurses that within the last few years, a high-school graduate is now offered an
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accelerated training course of just ten-months duration entitled, “Enfermeras Emergentes” (Emergency Nurses). These “quasi” nurses are not trained to start Intravenous lines, interpret lab results or draw blood.
As described in reftel, the best medical institutions in Cuba are reserved for foreigners with hard currency, members of the ruling elite and high-ranking military personnel. These institutions, with their intended patient clientele in parentheses, include: Clinica Central Cira Garcia (diplomats & tourists), Centro Internacional de Investigaciones Restauracion Neurologica (foreigners & military elite), Centro de Investigaciones Medico Quirurgicas (military & regime elite), Clinica de Kohly (Primer Buro Politico & Generals of the Ministry of Interior), and the top floors of the Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital (foreigners) and Frank Pais Hospital (foreigners). These institutions are hygienically qualified, and have a wide array of diagnostic equipment with a full complement of laboratories, well-stocked pharmacies, and private patient suites with cable television and bathrooms.
– Built in 1982, this newly renovated 600 bed, 24 story hospital is depicted in Michael Moore’s film “Sicko,” where some 60 surgeries are performed daily including heart, kidney, and cornea transplants, mostly to patients who receive free treatment as part of Operation Milagro (mostly from Venezuela, but also from the rest of Latin America). The two top floors (shown in the movie) are the most modern and are reserved for medical tourists and foreign diplomats who pay in hard currency. The hospital has three intensive care units and all medical specialties except Pediatrics and Obstetrics/Gynecology and has no emergency room. The facility has a CT scanner (often said to be out-of-service), MRI and hyperbaric chamber capabilities.
– HIV positive patients have had the letters ‘SIDA’ (AIDS)
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stamped on their national ID cards. Needless to say, in a country where the national ID card must be shown for everything from getting monthly rations to buying a train ticket, the person is stigmatized for life. There is no patient/doctor confidentiality and discrimination is very strong. (Note: According to Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) officials in Havana, stamping ID cards used to be the case but is no longer the practice in Cuba, something we could not independently corroborate. End Note.)
– Some newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS patients are held in what has come to be known as “Prision de Pacientes con SIDA de San Jose” (Prison for AIDS patients). There they are started on antiretrovirals AZT, D4T, 3TC. It is unclear to them why they were put in this prison-like facility but believe it is plain discrimination due to their homosexuality. The average period spent at this facility seems to be 18-24 months.