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Al Jazeera Examines Cuba's National Health Care System; IPS Looks At HIV/AIDS In The Country

In a feature story, Al Jazeera examines Cuba’s national health care system, which “works — or is supposed to work — by emphasizing primary and preventative health care.” However, after subsidies from the former Soviet Union “ended and Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin, nothing was the same again,” according to the news agency, which notes the system experiences drug shortages, patients have long wait times, and some hospitals are dirty or malfunctioning. “In all fairness, in the past five years, the government has made great efforts to improve hospitals and health centers, but again, lack of resources is making the process painfully slow,” Al Jazeera writes, adding, “The system is free, but it is neither fast nor efficient for two important reasons. One is obviously the lack of financial resources, and the other — which is related to the first — is the ‘export’ of doctors, nurses and dentists in exchange for hard currency.” The feature concludes, “But for all its shortcomings, Cubans do have better access to health care than the majority of those living in many ‘developing nations,’ where public health is shockingly inadequate” (Newman, 6/18).

In another article, Inter Press Service examines HIV/AIDS in Cuba, writing that the country has a prevalence rate of “0.18 percent in the 15-49 age group, described as ‘exceptionally low’ by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.” IPS looks at the work of the Cuban AIDS Prevention Group (GPsida), a national network of “voluntary health advocates [who have] been working for the past two decades to promote safe practices for curbing the spread of HIV and helping improve the quality of life for HIV-positive people, backing up the work of government health agencies,” according to the news service (Gonzalez, 6/18).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.