Posted on Wednesday, 10.10.12
Cuba closes hospitals amid health reorganization
The Associated Press
HAVANA — Cuba shuttered hundreds of medical facilities last year,
including 54 hospitals, as the country reorganizes its health care sector.
The number of medical installations nationwide fell from 13,203 in 2010
to 12,738 last year, a decline of 3.5 percent, according to figures
posted online in recent days by the National Office of Statistics. The
reductions included everything from general hospitals to family clinics,
the small medical outposts that are ubiquitous across the island.
Cuba is proud of the universal, free health system installed after Fidel
Castro's 1959 revolution, but his younger brother and successor Raul
Castro has stressed that medical care must be more efficient and less
Health care budgets have been shrinking in recent years under Raul
Castro, though authorities exhort doctors to simply do more with less
and promise there will be no elimination of services.
Reports in state media have recently highlighted examples of waste, such
as clinics with more drivers than ambulances and clinics with more
workers than beds.
The government also launched a campaign called "It's free, but it
costs," to raise islanders' awareness about how much the government
spends providing health care.
The report from the Statistics Office reported an uptick in the number
of doctors, from around 76,500 in 2010 to nearly 78,700 last year. Cuba
already had one of the world's highest doctor-patient ratios.
Over the same period, technicians and support staff dropped sharply from
87,600 to 76,000.
Raul Castro has said the country must slash inflated payrolls
dramatically as part of his five-year plan to overhaul the economy.