Fidel Castro’s Commitment to the Health of Cubans is Amazing

José A. de la Osa “Fidel Castro’s understanding of public health is amazing, as is also his commitment to the health of all Cubans”, affirmed in Havana by Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), who met on Tuesday with the leader of the Cuban Revolution, “whom I was surprised by, and I was very pleased that our meeting took place.” The top official said that they spoke about several topics and listed among them the response Cuba has been having toward the A H1N1 pandemic, the current and future challenges of climate change, and the need to offer more attention to the disabled, and mentioned the video she watched on the Manuela Espejo Mission now underway in Ecuador with the support of Cuban professionals, in the active search for the hearing, visually, mentally, and intellectually impaired and for those who have limitations in their physical and motor functions. Shortly after concluding her four-day visit to the island on Wednesday, Dr. Chan met with representatives from the national and foreign press accredited in Cuba. While answering questions by the journalists, she said that she spoke with Fidel for some two hours, and “I felt tired and he didn’t, even though I’m younger.” At the end, she said, “He walked me a long distance from the house”, and added: “He looked wonderful, very strong”. While making an assessment of her stay in the country, during which she toured several medical care and research centers and met with health and governmental authorities, patients and relatives, she said that that interaction helped her understand the Cuban health system better. She commented that the WHO supports the basic concepts of the universality of public health care, equality and social justice, because they’re important values and characteristics in any health system. It gives me great pleasure to see, she underlined, that the Cuban system puts these values into practice and that special attention is given to the promotion and prevention of diseases, early detection, treatment and rehabilitation. She emphasized the favorable indicators the country is showing in life expectancy and infant mortality rates. She pointed out that this is due to the fact that Cuba has an adequate vision and direction, there’s a governmental policy aimed at improving people’s health, considered a citizen’s right. Chan also highlighted the profound commitment of its professionals to these endeavors, including those of researchers who aim their studies and results at the satisfaction of the health needs of the population, and pointed out that in several of the institutions she visited she could verify they carry out important work for the benefit of the world by way of their contributions to the WHO. She also spoke about her visit to the Ramón Pando Ferrer Ophthalmology Institute, where she learned more about the program to cure or alleviate blindness that Cuba is carrying out in 35 countries, known as Operation Miracle. Granma Daily


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