Despite the overwhelming poverty and brutal regime, Cuba is often used as the “ideal model” for healthcare by progressive, who overlook the massive problems the system creates for patients. Recent news from the country indicates there is trouble in paradise, though — the communist nation appears to be running out of medicine.
According to Breitbart, over 40 lifesaving medications that patients in Cuba rely on will be unavailable or very difficult to find in the country in the month of August. These medications, which are commonplace elsewhere, include those for high blood pressure, heart problems, and mental health issues. Some medications are becoming so difficult to access, that family members of ill patients have begun to camp out in front of pharmacies, hoping to be first in line to buy if a shipment comes in. According to an official from the Cuban-based medication manufacturing facility devoted to producing these lifesaving medications, a shortage of raw materials is to blame.
“We still have struggles for prime materials due to different causes related to the providers and banking problems,” Rita María García Almaguer, head of operations said. “We have contracted for raw materials and, from one moment to the next, they have informed us that they cannot continue the contract for the product. So we have to go out then and find a new provider.”
A strict rationing system can also make it more difficult for those with chronic conditions and ongoing needs to access medication. In some cases, the pills are available, but rationed based on a wide range of criteria – but not based on medical need. Long lines and patients at risk are the result of the shortage and rationing of medical care.
Waiting in line is nothing new for Cubans. The communist leadership and heavy handed political controls have led to shortages of other items, including food basics like flour and milk. This is the first time the nation’s already beleaguered healthcare system has run short of medication.
Though the communist country is often held up as an example of ideal healthcare policies by the left, the nation’s healthcare system has been operating in crisis mode for years. Breitbart refers to the medical system as a “slave doctor system” in which providers are forced to work long hours and provide care with minimal access to supplies and minimal or no pay.
The troubled healthcare system lies under the surface. One of the things the healthcare regime in Cuba actually does well is build propaganda around their system, and make it look far more effective than it is. According to the National Institutes of Health, patient outcome numbers and illness statistics are modified as needed, or coded as something other than poor medical care to ensure the system looks well to observers. The current medical shortage may be far worse than reported — since media access is strictly controlled, there is no way of knowing just how many Cubans are lacking the medical devices and medication needed to survive.