Cuban media hails decision; UN Watch condemns “UN handing propaganda victory to a dictatorship”
GENEVA, May 19 – The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch criticized the UN’s election today of Cuba to chair the 67th World Health Assembly, with executive director Hillel Neuer saying the decision “wrongly hands a coveted propaganda victory to a dictatorship that imprisons journalists and brutalizes human rights defenders,” and that it “enables Cuba to further perpetuate myths about a health system that is in fact crumbling, with desperate citizens reduced to asking tourists to bring them Aspirin and other basic medicines.”
The consensus election today by 194 WHO member states chose the sole candidate, Cuban Health Minister Roberto Tomas Morales Ojeda.
“Why is the UN placing the world’s health in the hands of a government that practices medical Apartheid, with privileged clinics for medical tourists, while its own impoverished citizens are denied Aspirin and other basic medicines, with public hospitals that deny their patients running water or working toilets?” asked Neuer.
State-sponsored media has already trumpeted the anticipated victory, saying “Cuba has been chosen in large part because of the results and impact of its health initiatives, within the country and internationally.”
While the Cuban articles claimed the Castro regime has achieved numerous health milestones, experts and international observers say the health system is in disarray.
- “I haven’t seen Aspirin in a Cuban store here for more than a year. If you have any pills in your purse, I’ll take them. Even if they have passed their expiry date.” (Castro’s health care system is paid for through onerous taxation and cannot provide even basic drugs, National Post)
- According to Al Jazeera’s Latin America editor and former CNN reporter Lucia Newman, “I saw many hospitals where there was often no running water, the toilets did not flush, and the risk of infections – by the hospital’s own admission – was extremely high.” Health workers “smuggle the medicine out of the hospitals.” (“The truths and tales of Cuban healthcare.”)
- Doctors suffer lamentable working conditions. (Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D, published in Surgical Neurology 2004, http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/socialized-medicine-cuba-part-ii-doctor-diplomacy-sex-tourism-and-medical-apartheid).
- The country prioritizes healthcare for tourists instead of their own poor. (Source; http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/cuba/health-myth.htm.) The former chief neurosurgeon of Cuba lost her job for opposing this discrimination.
- Doctors serving in the government health agencies or ministering to patients in clinics and hospitals are not informed about basic new technology or medical breakthroughs. (Source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0090301903007468)
Although Cuba has sent thousands of doctors to Venezuela in exchange for oil, their doctors are considered poorly trained:
- Brazilian medical associations determined that Cuban doctors’ training is substandard. (Source: http://www.caribbean-events.com/article/brazil-plans-hire-6000-cuban-doctors-work-rural-areas#sthash.CcP5L55n.dpuf)
- Cuban doctors’ exam results are said to be “among the worst of the average of 600 professionals – ranging in homelands from Argentina, Bolivia, the United States and European countries. (Source: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/health/2011/10/24/cuban-doctors-get-sickly-results-in-brazilian-medical-exams/ )
While Cuba claims to meet UN and other international health benchmarks, the data is known tobe falsified by the regime:
- “Cuban authorities deliberately falsify statistics on their country’s social condition.” (Source: Eric N. Baklanof, Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy. “Cuba’s Long Lie Expectancy,” Investor’s Business Daily, April 27, 2007, http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=14497)
- “Many children do not become part of the infant mortality statistics because they are killed before birth and not cared for after birth”. (Dr. Jose Marti, MD http://www.pop.org/content/abortion-and-infanticide-in-cuba-1089)
Cuba’s article on the election of its minister trumpeted its victory over diseases, yet Cuba has cholera:
- “Cuba still battling cholera a year after first cases reported.” (Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/22/us-cuba-cholera-idUSBRE97L0YJ20130822)
- Since July 2012 there has been an “ongoing” outbreak of “more than 700 cases of cholera, including 3 deaths”. (Source: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/cholera-cuba)
According to Reuters and the BBC, Cuban hospitals are in terrible shape:
- In Havana Psychiatric Hospital, at least “26 psychiatric patients died of cold”(http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/17/us-cuba-trial-idUSTRE70G4J820110117).
- This was blamed on “criminal negligence” and the fact that “the hospital was in such a bad state that it could not protect people from the cold” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8462844.stm).