Preventive care lessons from Cuba's healthcare model

The United States could learn a great deal about healthcare culture from the recently opened island nation of Cuba. In spite of a lack of modern medical equipment and financial resources, Cuba's healthcare system is a model for other nations in the region, according to a report from Yahoo! Health.

Cuba's government established a generation ago that access to quality healthcare is a universal human right and took steps to implement a system that emphasizes primary care and prevention, the article noted.

Now, in the wake of a lifting of decades-old trade and diplomatic embargoes against Cuba, American medical schools are sending students to study the Cuban healthcare system.

"Cuba has always had scarce resources but they started out with the foundation that everyone has a right to basic, necessary healthcare," William Cunningham, assistant dean for the College of Osteopathic Medicine in West Michigan and interim director of Michigan State University's Institute of International Health, told Yahoo! Health.

Experts like Cunningham point to Cuba's health outcomes as evidence that the system is working. The country has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the Western hemisphere. The CIA's World Fact Book says the country averages 4.63 deaths per 1,000 live births compared to 5.87 in the U.S. in 2015.

Through the Cuban government's Family Doctor program, physicians are not only responsible for their patients, but are also tasked with ensuring community health

In the U.S., in spite of our massive spending and access to the latest in modern advances, patients nonetheless receive mediocre to substandard care in proportion to the amount spent on healthcare outcomes, according to the article.

"Although the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country and has the highest proportion of specialist physicians, survey findings indicate that from the patients' perspective, and based on outcome indicators, the performance of American healthcare is severely lacking," said a 2014 report from the Commonwealth Fund.

Shifting the focus of healthcare toward primary care and public health are among the most important of the 12 steps to the perfect health system recommended in Mark Britnell's new book, "In Search of the Perfect Health System." Britnell said that universal health care should be available to all citizens, regardless of their ability to pay.

To learn more:
- read the article from Yahoo! Health