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Judi Lynn

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Number of posts: 147,066

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Cuba's Health Care System: a Model for the World

Salim Lamrani

Doctor, Paris Sorbonne Paris IV University, Lecturer, University of La Réunion

Cuba's Health Care System: a Model for the World

Posted: 08/08/2014 9:46 am EDT Updated: 10/08/2014 5:59 am EDT

According to the UN's World Health Organization, Cuba's health care system is an example for all countries of the world.

The Cuban health system is recognized worldwide for its excellence and its efficiency. Despite extremely limited resources and the dramatic impact caused by the economic sanctions imposed by the United States for more than half a century, Cuba has managed to guarantee access to care for all segments of the population and obtain results similar to those of the most developed nations.

During her recent visit to Havana in July of 2014, Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), impressed by the country's achievements in this field, praised the Cuban health care system: "Cuba is the only country that has a health care system closely linked to research and development. This is the way to go, because human health can only improve through innovation," She also praised "the efforts of the country's leadership for having made health an essential pillar of development" [1].

Cuba's health care system is based on preventive medicine and the results achieved are outstanding. According to Margaret Chan, the world should follow the example of the island in this arena and replace the curative model, inefficient and more expensive, with a prevention-based system. "We sincerely hope that all of the world's inhabitants will have access to quality medical services, as they do in Cuba," she said. [2]

WHO notes that the lack of access to care in the world is by no means a foregone conclusion arising from a lack of resources. It reflects, instead, a lack of political will on the part of leaders to protect their most vulnerable populations. The organization cites the case of the Caribbean island as the perfect counter-example [3]. Moreover, in May 2014, in recognition of the excellence of its health care system, Cuba chaired the 67th World Health Assembly [4].


Revolutionary Doctors Fighting Ebola: The Cuban Light Brigade

October 28, 2014
Revolutionary Doctors Fighting Ebola

The Cuban Light Brigade



The Ebola epidemic… whereas most of the world tightens border controls and essentially flees from the problem, Cuba opens a new chapter of solidarity and faces the danger. By sending 255 doctors and nurses to West Africa to deal with the latest Ebola outbreak, the heroic island – with few resources except courage, decency and education – has once again given the world a lesson in internationalism.

This latest chapter in Cuban solidarity should be added to a list of episodes that includes medical assistance to numerous countries, but perhaps most saliently Cuba’s central role in defeating South African apartheid. Despite fierce internal struggle and the international boycott, the end of South Africa’s racist regime would not have happened had not massive numbers of Cuban volunteers fought in Angola and Namibia in the 1970s and 1980s.

The latest group of Cuban medical professionals – which arrived last week to Liberia and Guinea Conakry – will not be receiving the privileged medical evacuations that Spanish and North American doctors and priests have benefited from. If they fall ill they will be treated in situ, in the same circumstances as the resident population. Already one Cuban internationalist’s life has been claimed: Jorge Juan Guerra Rodríguez succumbed to cerebral malaria on Sunday in Guinea.

The Cuban doctor Ronald Hernández Torres wrote in his facebook account from Liberia: “I am here carrying out my duty as a revolutionary doctor, helping the African people in the fight against the Ebola epidemic. We arrived yesterday and soon will be in the front line, paying off the debt that all of humanity has with Africa. The only way to prevent the epidemic spreading to the entire world is stopping it here. We are helping so that there will be no more deaths from Ebola in this great continent.”


The real-life Indiana Jones on the hunt for lost ancient Mayan cities in Mexico

The real-life Indiana Jones on the hunt for lost ancient Mayan cities in Mexico

Slovenian archaeologist Ivan Šprajc is behind discovery of three significant ruins in the remote jungles of the Yucatán peninsula

Jo Tuckman in Mexico City
theguardian.com, Tuesday 28 October 2014 11.40 EDT

There are days when Ivan Šprajc gets fed up with his job. Hacking pathways through the Mexican jungle with machetes is exhausting. Keeping a constant eye out for deadly snakes can be nerve-racking. The risk of finding nothing to show for all the effort is real.

But then there is reward that comes when the contours of a plaza, palace, ball court or pyramid emerge from beneath the tree cover, or inscriptions that could help explain them are revealed by brushing off undergrowth.

“I’ve said to myself quite a few times that this is the last season, because it is so difficult. But it is such a reward when you find a new site,” says the Slovenian archaeologist, who has made a career of finding lost Mayan cities. “It’s tough work, but it’s dead romantic.”

This year Šprajc’s team found two – Tamchén and Lagunita – which followed last year’s discovery of a large site called Chactún.

The finding of the three sites is the first step in surveying an almost unexplored area spanning about 1,200 sq miles in the northern part of the Calakmul biosphere reserve, between the Río Bec and Chenes regions, in the southern Mexican state of Campeche.

“You can call it archaeological reconnaissance,” he says. “It is the very first step into an area that is completely unknown.”


Countries urge El Salvador to change repressive abortion laws

Countries urge El Salvador to change repressive abortion laws
28 October 2014

El Salvador came under pressure from nine countries at the United Nations last night to amend its repressive and out-dated abortion laws. The effects of these laws amount to institutionalized violence, torture and other forms of ill-treatment against women and girls, said Amnesty International.

A further 12 countries have raised concerns about continued discrimination against women in the country.

El Salvador was called upon at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to reform laws that bar access to abortion in all circumstances and send women to prison for having miscarriages or clandestine abortions.

“We have seen first-hand the devastating impact these laws are having on the women and girls of El Salvador, from women dying during clandestine abortions, to others imprisoned for more than 40 years after having suffered a miscarriage. Now representatives from various countries have joined us in saying enough is enough,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Among the countries calling for change was Spain which earlier this year scrapped its own draft legislation that would have limited access to abortion in the country. Spain told El Salvador, that “women and girls must have access to sexual and reproduction education” and that “all women in prison for having an abortion must be freed, as well as those imprisoned for miscarriage, and that their criminal records be wiped out.”


Peru families receive 'dirty war' bodies

Peru families receive 'dirty war' bodies
Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - 06:48 AM

Peruvian farmers came from remote mountains and jungle valleys to receive the exhumed remains of loved ones killed three decades ago during Peru’s dirty war.

Hundreds arrived in the Ayacucho state capital for yesterday’s handover of 80 sets of remains.

Simple white coffins bore the bones of fathers, mothers, wives, children and brothers.

Julio Quispe took delivery of the bones of his wife, Elisa, and their one-year-old child.


A truth commission found that some 70,000 died in the conflict.


Will Ebola Finish Off the US blockade of Cuba?

October 27, 2014

A Creature of Its Own Making

Will Ebola Finish Off the US blockade of Cuba?


The New York Times October recently praised Cuba for sending health workers to West Africa to fight Ebola. “Cuba stands to play the most robust role among the nations seeking to contain the virus,” the Times said, adding that “Cuba’s contribution (…) should be lauded and emulated.”

More than that: “Only Cuba and a few nongovernmental organizations are offering what is most needed: medical professionals in the field.” Indeed nations “with the most to offer” have held back. The newspaper has some advice. “Washington (…) is diplomatically estranged from Havana, the boldest contributor. Therefore, the benefits of moving swiftly to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba” are clear.

The week before, the Times had also called for the U.S. government to establish normal relations with Cuba. But this time the editors added urgency to their plea and left out earlier qualifications.

The United Nations has secured pledges for almost $1 billion, but aid flows slowly; $50 million were in hand as of October 21. According to the Times, “19,000 doctors, nurses and paramedics are needed by December1.” The United States and Britain are sending soldiers and building field hospitals.

The U.S. government is stymied. “Up until now”, reports conservative Times columnist David Brooks, “aid has been scattershot and coordination has just not been there. At root, this is a governance failure.” In a subsequent column, he blames out-of control fear, which is a “function of isolation.” And, “We live in a society almost perfectly suited for contagions of hysteria and overreaction, (…) a segmented society, with widening gaps between different social classes.” “Things that are supposed to keep you safe, like national borders and national authorities, seem porous and ineffective.” Ebola “exploits the weakness in the fabric of our culture.”


American University Professor, Co-Author Details 50 years of Secret Back Channel Negotiations with C

American University Professor, Co-Author Details 50 years of Secret Back Channel Negotiations with Cuba in New Book

Ten years of research, poring through hundreds of pages of previously classified U.S. and Cuban documents, and hours of interviews with Fidel Castro, former President Jimmy Carter, and other surviving policymakers and negotiators led William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh to uncover the secret, back-channel contacts the two governments have had since 1959.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) October 21, 2014

Fifty-two years ago, the Cuban Missile Crisis fueled fears of nuclear Armageddon from across the Florida Straits. As the DEFCON level reached its highest alert, Washington and Moscow reached a diplomatic breakthrough removing the Soviet missiles. While Kennedy and Khrushchev negotiated, Washington also opened a secret back channel through Brazil to persuade Cuba to kick the Soviets and their missiles out. Over the ensuing years, U.S.-Cuban relations have been marked by lingering distrust, an embargo, and anything-but-normalized relations. Irreconcilable differences and Florida politics have kept the conflict alive, but 10 U.S. presidents, including John F. Kennedy, tried to return to some degree of normalcy with Castro. American University professor William LeoGrande and his co-author Peter Kornbluh look at the five decades of secret negotiations in their new book Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana (University North Carolina Press, Oct. 2014).

Since 1959 Every U.S. President & Castro Have Engaged in Dialogue

Ten years of research, poring through hundreds of pages of previously classified U.S. and Cuban documents, hours of interviews with Fidel Castro, former President Jimmy Carter, and other surviving policymakers and negotiators led LeoGrande and Kornbluh to uncover the secret, back-channel contacts the two governments have had since 1959. U.S. officials and a dozen private citizens, including former president Jimmy Carter, have engaged with Cuban counterparts in half a dozen different countries and in settings from five-star hotels and restaurants to the cafeteria at La Guardia airport. During the Carter administration, Coca-Cola chairman J. Paul Austin carried secret messages to Fidel Castro and during the Reagan administration, Peggy Dulany, David Rockefeller's daughter, carried a message from Castro to Secretary of State George Shultz.

The record of regular contact and dialogue over half a century compelled LeoGrande and Korbluh to tell the little known story of engagement. Whether you call it cigar diplomacy (using cigars for diplomatic ice breaking), back channel negotiation, or rapprochement, the fact is every U.S. president has tried to engage with Cuba to advance the national interest.


U.N. vote on Cuba embargo again pits U.S. against world

U.N. vote on Cuba embargo again pits U.S. against world
By Paul Guzzo | Tribune Staff
Published: October 26, 2014

TAMPA — A vote this week in the United Nations will serve as a reminder of the long-standing U.S. policy to isolate Cuba as a means of encouraging moves toward democratic rule there. It’s a vote that also spotlights U.S. isolation on the issue. On Tuesday, the U.N. General Assembly takes up a resolution on “the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”

For the 23rd straight year, the assembly is expected overwhelmingly to condemn the U.S. policy. Last year, the vote was 188-2, with Israel joining the U.S. in supporting the status quo.

Key U.S. leaders pay the numbers no heed, including Florida’s Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. The son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio put Cuba in the company of North Korea and Iran during a Senate floor speech earlier this year, saying, “If America and its policymakers are not going to be firmly on the side of freedom and liberty, who in the world is?” But this time, a more conciliatory response may follow the U.N. vote.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, the Tampa Democrat, said she has spoken with President Barack Obama on the issue and believes he may make a major announcement on relations with Cuba by April to show he is committed to normalizing relations — something he pledged to work toward during his first campaign for the White House.


How Daniel Coronell became one of Alvaro Uribe’s biggest headaches

How Daniel Coronell became one of Alvaro Uribe’s biggest headaches
Oct 27, 2014 posted by Joel Gillin

Daniel Coronell is the journalist behind the recent string of revelations which has exposed former President Alvaro Uribe’s now-evidently hypocritical opposition to the Colombian government’s peace talks with the FARC rebels.
With more than 20 years of experience as journalist, Coronell has broken some of the biggest stories in Colombian politics while also remaining active in academia as a journalism professor and research fellow in Colombia and abroad.

He is currently a columnist at the Colombian weekly Semana. After acting as director of Colombian television network Noticias Uno, in 2011 Coronell became director of Univision, the largest Spanish-language news channel in the United States.

Past Revelations

Coronell has been a fierce critic of Uribe for more than a decade, publishing stories, documents, and opinion pieces which have detailed the questionable ties and activities of the now-Senator and his family.

Back in 2002, Coronell revealed that a helicopter owned by Uribe’s father had been found at a cocaine processing center in the south of Colombia in a 1984 raid by local police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Following the story, Coronell and his family received a number of death threats, causing the journalist to go into exile between 2005 and 2007.


Volunteering in Guatemala: A Life-changing Experience

Volunteering in Guatemala: A Life-changing Experience
Thu, 10/23/2014 - 18:08

I looked down on her. Was there any other way to say it? I’m sure that’s how she saw me. Physically, there was no way around it. The top of her head came to my waist, her height the result of a lifetime of poor nutrition. Economically, I, a teen American, would be given more in life than she ever had. I was finishing high school with excellent grades and a good shot at college. She, like so many other Guatemalans, probably hadn’t made it through third grade, and had likely spent her life cooking over a fire or tending fields. I had comfortable shoes, functional (if not new or stylish) clothes, and a computer back home that gave me access to a wealth of information. She wore well-used plastic sandals and a handwoven wrap. And yet, despite the differences in age, class, and culture, this elderly Guatemalan woman smiled widely and took my hand, never judging me. She led me up the highland path to the small concrete complex that was the school.

The children cheered as we entered, ten or more foreigners, invited here by CoEd Guatemala to witness the inauguration of the new school and support a great charity. Today was a party day, and they knew it. For the first time, their school would have books, pencils and paper, teachers who could actually speak their language.
I walked around the school, marveling. At first, I’d been shocked to hear that 82% of Guatemalan kids don’t make through high school, and that most drop out by third grade. It seemed like a faulty statistic, an exaggeration of fact. But now it was beginning to make sense to me. These children had no materials to learn from. Their teachers used blackboards to jot down the information they knew, but rarely spoke any one of the more than 21 unique Mayan dialects spoken in the highlands of Guatemala. Add to that the fact that their families often couldn’t afford to buy them shoes to go to school, and needed their help working the fields, and I began to wonder how any of them got through at all.

CoEd Guatemala has created an affordable system for Guatemalan families which allows them to “rent” schoolbooks for approximately $1.50 a month. By the end of the year, the schools have saved enough to purchase new materials. The organization sets up sustainable computer, textbook, reading, and scholarship programs throughout Guatemala.

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