At the World Health Organization’s 70th international meeting, Cuba once again set a progressive example based on human rights by calling for universal health coverage for all.
“Cuba supports the strengthening of systems geared toward achieving universal health coverage, recognizing that health is a fundamental human right and at the center of public policies for sustainable development,” Cuban Minister of Public Health Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda said last week during the meeting at the body’s headquarters in Geneva, which runs until May 31.
Morales Ojeda also reported that by the end of 2016, Cuba had achieved a life expectancy of 78.45 years and an immunization program that protects against 13 diseases — with many of the vaccines produced on the island — with coverage provided to 98 percent of the island.
He also noted that Cuba continues to lead in the world of health, with the communist country having become the first to officially eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis back in 2015.
“The foundations for the National Health System in Cuba were drawn up in 1959, the driving force behind which was the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz,” he stated, reported Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party.
Morales Ojeda also discussed the incapacitating effects of the U.S. blockade on Cuba, condemning policies and factors such as the “brain drain” which sees many Cuban professionals migrate.
The session also saw Cuban doctors, from the Cuba’s Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specializing in Disasters and Serious Epidemics, awarded the Dr. Lee Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health.
The internationalist brigade was recognized for its solidarity work throughout the world, as well its outstanding contribution to public health.
In particular, WHO commended the team’s work in combatting the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, where Cuba had sent more than 250 workers when the crisis peaked in 2015. For their work there, they were also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.