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Shocker: Cuba Manipulates Health Care Statistics

From the Washington Free Beacon:

Cuba Manipulating Health Care Statistics

Experts: Socialist regime trying to enhance its legitimacy

By Daniel Wiser | March 5, 2014

Cuba’s socialist regime continues to engage in widespread manipulation of its health care statistics to enhance its legitimacy abroad, experts say. The issue of Cuba’s health care record came up again recently after Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) visited the island in January, telling reporters afterward that Cuba is a “poor country” but “their public health system is quite remarkable.” He said Cuba has a lower child mortality rate than the United States and a higher life expectancy. Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) contested Harkin’s claims in an impassioned floor speech last week…

Dr. Rodolfo Stusser, former adviser to the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, said in an email that the ministry has contrived its health data since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution. Stusser conducted his own personal research on Cuba’s health care system since 1800, but has been unable to review more data in recent years. Officials at Cuba’s Health Statistics Bureau told him in 2009 that old archives had been lost in a fire.

Isn’t that handy?

Stusser presented research last year to the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) showing that declining infant and gross mortality rates predated Castro’s takeover. However, health care successes in Cuba’s colonial and republican eras “have been systematically erased or distorted,” he said in the report.

Cuba had the 14th lowest infant mortality rate in the world in 1958, lower than France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Cuba has the 42nd lowest rate today, according to 2013 estimates in the CIA’s World Factbook.

While Cuba’s infant mortality rate is lower than the United States, Stusser said Cuban authorities use heavy-handed methods to keep it that way.

Doctors in Cuba’s public health system are pressured to induce abortions for potentially problematic pregnancies in order to artificially lower the infant mortality rate. Stusser estimated that if the deaths of living fetuses older than 21 weeks had been reported, Cuba’s infant mortality rate would be at least 50 percent higher.

Katherine Hirschfeld, chairwoman of the anthropology department at the University of Oklahoma, said in an email that she observed similar practices in Cuba in the 1990s.

One doctor told Hirschfeld that not encouraging abortions for fetuses with abnormalities “might raise the infant mortality rate.” She said Cuba lacks neonatal intensive care wards that would prevent the deaths of infants with genetic defects, creating additional pressure to abort them and keep mortality rates low.

“The Cuban government’s approach to health and health care seems to prioritize the health of ‘the revolution’ above the health of individual patients,” she said. “This means doctors must hit specific statistical targets for their communities.”

And the really scary thing is, what is to stop this from happening here, once we have government controlled healthcare? It’s not like the Obama administration is above manipulating or even outright lying about statistics.

Cuba’s life expectancy statistics are also disputed.  The United States has a life expectancy of 78.62 years compared to 78.05 in Cuba, according to CIA estimates. Data from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), by contrast, gives Cuba a slightly higher life expectancy.

Hirschfeld said there is reason to be “skeptical” of PAHO’s data because it relies on self-reported health statistics that are not independently verified.

Cuban officials have been reluctant to acknowledge disease outbreaks in the last couple decades despite multiple reports. A cholera outbreak beginning in July 2012 sickened hundreds and killed at least three people.

Hirschfeld said she contracted dengue fever while in eastern Cuba and was placed in a crowded hospital, where no medications were offered and medical assistance was limited. Patients who could walk helped the more severely ill, and all of them were expected to have their own dishes and utensils…

Castro’s nationalization of the health system banned private initiatives and public-private partnerships, hampering Cuba’s biotechnology industry and drug development.

Cuba now has a glut of poorly trained family doctors, and many of the best health care facilities are reserved for elites and foreigners, Stusser said. Thousands of doctors have defected…

Don’t worry. It can’t happen here.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, March 6th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Shocker: Cuba Manipulates Health Care Statistics”

  1. Right of the People

    This is obviously a pack of lies perpetrated by the damned right wingers to discredit comrade Fidel. You’ll be hearing from his US affiliate as soon as he returns from his official vacation, er I mean trip to Miami.

  2. canary

    I can’t imagine Sen.Tom Harkin did not know about the forced abortions, but he would think it was a good thing.

    My question is if they still make women on their periods wait in line to get an aspirin for cramps.


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