Cuba's Top Export is Healthcare, Not Sugar


Cuba has the world's largest number of physicians per capita. The Cuban government earns $8 billion annually in revenues from its healthcare professionals. Approximately 37,000 Cuban nurses and doctors are currently working in 77 countries, and the socialist regime allows the government to collect a portion of the incomes earned by Cuban workers abroad.

In 2013, Cuba sent 4,000 doctors to the Brazilian Health Ministry to help care for underserved regions of Brazil, earning about $270 million a year. By the end of 2014, Brazil's "More Doctors" program had brought 14,462 healthcare professionals to the country—11, 429 of these were from Cuba.

Cuba has a systematically planned and organized primary care delivery system that treats healthcare as a human right, as stipulated in its constitution. Cubans receive healthcare for free and have a community physician, who sees them regularly. The physicians in Cuba are often underpaid and usually have second jobs, but they don't seem to mind because they genuinely care about their patients. Patients are easily able to access their doctor, and this has allowed them to successfully implement preventive medicine.

Nonetheless, Cuba's healthcare lacks effective tertiary care, specialized care and access to important drugs. The rationing of care and years of embargo has resulted in shortages of medicine. For example, aspirin and band-aids require a prescription in Cuba.

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