Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

Sept. 30, 1999.


HAVANA - The Cuban government, without blushing, keeps bringing up its trite boasting that in spite of the hard economic situation the country is going through, its citizens have a better life than people in other underdeveloped or developing nations, because they have access to health, education and sports services.

But is it a true statement, a half truth, or a falsehood repeated a thousand times? One of the assertions in matters of public health is that the so-called traditional or alternative medicine makes up for the deficit in pharmaceutical drugs. To begin with, this line of work is not at all a Cuban invention because all over the world advances are being made in the substitution of "natural" therapies for fabricated pills.

In the field of health education, which is associated with what has come to be called preventive medicine, and which aims to improve eating habits, fight tension, make sexual behaviors compatible with health, the island's health system is neither exclusive nor exceptional.

What are presented in Cuba as achievements are nothing but worldwide tendencies, the product of scientific and technical development in the fields of medicine and an ongoing global awareness about how to live a healthier life.

But it is necessary to dedicate time not only for self-praise about what is being done in alternative and preventive medicine, but also to observe what is happening in connection with "resisting the 'blockade' (embargo)" and "preserving the conquests of the revolution." Let us observe one concrete case.

The Regla Community Poly-Clinic in Havana has space for mud therapy. The medicinal muds are brought to the capital from Matanzas Province but in spite of the investment in transportation and labor, patients either receive the treatment very poorly administered or are left, frequently, wholly without the treatment. In repeated instances the sessions have been suspended for lack of water! Every month for four years, those in charge of the mud have asked clinic directors, to no avail, for installation of two water tanks on the roof of the facility.

But that is not the only misery. The employees have only one bucket with which to heat the mud, which is supposed to be applied to at least 20 patients in each session. All other containers have been broken. The two technicians that prepare the curative mud sometimes wound their arms on the jagged edges of the only existing bucket. Are these some of the proclaimed achievements of the alternative medicine?

Finally, not to bother readers with details, in the above-mentioned department there is no adequate ventilation and therefore the smell of sulfur from the mud contributes more than the daily routine to make the air suffocating.

It seems this mud business got stuck in the mud - as did the rest of the components of this "medical superpower."

Magaly Cruz TÚllez, Cuba Free Press.

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