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Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
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Omnia pro aegroto

October 11, 2000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact: Kathryn Serkes (202) 333-3855

full text of article is posted here

MEDICAL JOURNAL EXPOSES CUBA’S FAILED "DOCTOR DIPLOMACY"

Casto’s recent offer to provide free medical training and Cuban doctors to the U.S. is a blatant attempt to manipulate public policy based on false medical claims, according to an article in the current issue of THE MEDICAL SENTINEL -- The Official Journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

"Cuba’s so-called ‘doctor diplomacy’ may have begun in the manner of an assistance program for guerilla movements, but soon turned into big business for Havana." The article concludes that, in addition to ideological and political conflicts, there are compelling public health reasons for rejecting Castro’s proposal

Last June, Castro made what he called an "offer that could not be refused" to provide Cuban doctors and free medical training to the U.S. in a meeting with Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MI) and a delegation of African-American lawmakers touring Cuba. Castro currently sponsors a program of "doctor diplomacy" in which Cuban-trained doctors are stationed and supervised in many third-world countries.

But upon examination of public records, the authors conclude that Castro’s apparent humanitarian overtures are actually thinly veiled attempts to further Cuba’s sphere of influence:

  1. Cuban medical training requires dedication to communism;
  2. Cuban doctors generate ten of millions of dollars for the Castro regime;
  3. Cuban claims of "better" medical outcomes compared to the U.S. are false;
  4. Cuban-trained doctors remain under Castro’s control; 5. Cuban medical training is poor in comparison to the U.S.

1. COMMUNIST REQUIREMENTS

The authors cite public documents that reveal that Cuban medical schools require that a physician "must become a communist and he or she must pledge to improve his or her skills as a communist." Cuban medical school graduates must also "swear to be like Che Guevara." They warn "These young American students will undergo an aggressive brainwashing and indoctrinating process through which they will become Castro’s pawns."

2. PROFIT MOTIVE

Cuba receives many millions of dollars every year for doctors serving in other countries while the doctors are paid subsistence wages. For example, Cuba receives monthly revenues estimated at $1.2 million from Zimbabwe alone.

3. CUBA’S FALSE MEDICAL CLAIMS

Cuba claims to have an infant mortality rate slightly lower than the U.S. But upon further examination, this claim is quite misleading. The reality is that Cuban physicians are coerced into using extraordinary means to skew the infant mortality rate in return for financial incentives. "Life support may be artificially instituted and continued on an individual infant...to achieve a numerical goal in the infant mortality of a particular health sector or region."

The article reveals that the mortality rate of children in Cuba from 1 to 4 years is 34% HIGHER than the U.S. (11.8 versus 8.8 per 1000). Also, the maternal mortality rate in Cuba is almost FOUR TIMES that of the U.S. rate (33 versus 8.4 per 1000).

4. CONTROL OF CUBAN-TRAINED DOCTORS

Medical students who accept Castro’s offer of free medical training may find themselves indentured serfs to Cuba’s communism. Regulations require that "medical doctors must serve 3 to 5 years in designated areas in the island of Cuba before they are considered for permission to leave the island."

And even if they are ever allowed to return to the U.S., they may not be able to shake the influence. "The physicians serving in these units are essentially under the surveillance all the time and any change in their plans not consistent with the orders given from Havana invariably leads to the involvement of police or paramilitary security forces."

5. CUBA’S POOR MEDICAL TRAINING

Only 25% of Cuban-trained physicians pass the medical exams required to practice in the U.S.

CONCLUSION:

The offer of Castro to train for free low-income Americans must be refused because his claims of health achievements are based on propaganda that not indicative of health, well-being, or adequate standards of living. Castro’s offer is one of malicious distraction, and a propagandistic attempt to improve on the perception of the health standards and achievement claims of his Revolution.

full text of article is posted here