The Foundations of the Cuban Health System
By: Juliett Morales García
Cuba has cultivated a large and resourceful network of physicians, nurses and health technicians; a network which is only made possible thanks to well-designed academic practices and the constant commitment of academic institutions and the government to the improvement of healthcare professionals in postgraduate courses. The healthcare system in Cuba is made up of 60 different specialties.
Fifty-one of these specialties are medical, with five dental, three nursing and one for psychology, explained Dr. Luisa María Díaz Cruz, the National Director of Postgraduate courses of the Public Health Ministry (MINSAP).
In an interview with Cubaplus, Dr. Díaz went on to say that these specialties are taught through service training in clinics and polyclinics within the Cuban community itself since the students graduate as Basic General Physicians and are therefore able to practice their trade first hand. For these physicians, the next step is to become Comprehensive General Physicians (general practitioners) thus completing a six-year medical curriculum after which one can take on others specialties if desired.
Master's and PhD's of excellence
In Cuba, there are 43 master's programs authorized and accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education. Primary Health Care, Public Health, Promotion and Health Education are just some of the areas that qualify for certification, said Díaz.
Foreign students that have graduated in Cuba can also apply for a master's degree or a PhD. They are offered 51 medical specialties and master's programs.
Among wide access masters degrees, Comprehensive Child Care, Infectious Diseases, Comprehensive Dental Care, Dental Emergency, Comprehensive Women Care, as well as Bioenergetics or Natural Medicine can be added to the list of programs in which students can be certified.
For students who graduated in foreign countries there are excellent accredited masters programs offered that do not require daily attendance like Primary Health Care, Public Health, Health Psychology and Health Promotion, explained Díaz.
Dr. Díaz also added that among the PhD's considered to be of excellence are Medical Sciences, Health Sciences, Dental Sciences, Nursing Sciences and Health Education Sciences.
In Cuba there are only six prestigious universities that hold scientific degrees that are accredited as medical schools and that are capable of issuing master degrees. These schools include the Santiago de Cuba Medical Sciences University and its affiliated partners in the provinces of Camagüey and Villa Clara, the University of Havana, the Public Health National School and the Pedro Kourí Tropical Medicine Institute.
Cuba's medical outreach missions in other countries have also performed postgraduate training with Cuban health professionals or graduates from the Latin American Medical School (International Medical School in Cuba) working with Cuban medical brigades abroad, added Díaz. Most of the time, members of these medical teams include specialists and professionals with a high level of experience and many years of activity within the medical profession. Depending on the learning needs of other countries, the brigades also trains health workers from the local area that they are travelling through.