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Cuba’s rich attitude towards health is to die for

06 September, 2018 — By John Gulliver

US magazine Jacobin’s special edition on socialised medicine

IN Cuba there’s a saying that Cubans live like the poor but die like the rich.

Apparently, this means that when they are ill they are treated as well as the rich.

I have noticed that here people live pretty well but when they become patients of the National Health Service they are, at times, at risk of being treated “like the poor”, even dying like the poor.

Hospitals are so rundown – whatever the govern­ment says – that patients suffer. Some wards are not “safe” because there are too few nurses per bed.

In a Camden hospital I noticed the other week that there was only one nurse for 12 beds in a particular ward.

With so few nurses, hospitals are over eager to discharge patients into “community care” which, in reality, hardly exists.

I saw this happen with a relative.

I also visited an old friend in Islington who had clearly been discharged without any real “planning” for after-care treatment.

The problem is that most patients know nothing or little about medicine and leave it up to the medical practioners who themselves are under tremendous pressure these days to clear beds of patients.

I assume in Cuba the opposite applies. Its health facilities are world renowned – life expectancy is high, there is a good number of doctors per population; yes, as patients they are treated like the rich.

I got this saying from an exciting, plush US magazine, Jacobin, which produced a special edition on socialised medicine – showing how poor it is in the US, how much better in Cuba and Europe.

I bought the magazine accidentally recently in a radical bookshop in Liverpool – the name of the title appealed to me.

Then this week I read its editor owner Bhaskar Sunkara has bought the defunct leftie Labour magazine Tribune which used to be based in Camden under the editorship of the great Labour leader Michael Foot.

Whatever Bhaskar Sunkara produces, I hope it is as good as Jacobin.

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