Cuban health statistics

A question.

Cuba is said to have a very good health care system. WHO and other international statistics seem to bear this out.

However, WHO and other international health care statistics are based solely on the information that the Cuban Government releases. There is no independent verification.

The Cuban Government is, as we know, a Communist Dictatorship. Past experience with these has shown that they are not exactly forthcoming with the numbers that show them in a bad light.

So, to what extent is the \”Cuban wonderful health care story\” simply a matter of the Cuban Government lying through its teeth?

Is there any way of finding out? Is there something like Benford\’s Law we can use? Look at birth and death figures, population, and see whether life spans really are as advertised? Check abortion numbers against infant mortality to see whether the low latter is caused by the high former?

Anyone know?

16 thoughts on “Cuban health statistics”

  1. I wonder what UK life expectancy would be if most of the population was on ’40s style food rationing.

  2. I would guess it’s pretty difficult to find reliable statistics for the Cuban system, but there are quite a few eyewitness reports, such as:

    “Even the most commonly available pharmaceutical items in the U.S., such as Aspirin and rubbing alcohol, are conspicuously absent [in Cuba]… Antibiotics… are in extremely short supply and available only on the black market. Aspirin can be purchased only at government-run dollar stores, which carry common medications at a huge markup in U.S. dollars… This puts them out of reach of most Cubans, who are paid little and in pesos.”

  3. Also, I’m fairly sure (can’t verify right now) that the WHO skews the scoring to favour equality of coverage in healthcare systems. So, if everyone receives equally shit treatment in one country then that place would score higher than somewhere where there is an overall higher level of treatment, but less equal distribution.

    Tim adds: That’s true of one of their measures, yes (“best health care system”). But not of the ones I’m thinking about, infant mortality, average lifespan etc.

  4. Look at birth and death figures, population, and see whether life spans really are as advertised? Check abortion numbers against infant mortality to see whether the low latter is caused by the high former?

    As the sole source for all of those figures would be the Cuban government, it is “back to square one.”

  5. @4 no, the point is that faking different, subtly related metrics consistently and undetectably over time is very difficult.

    If you’re starting from the premise that the Cuban government isn’t very good, then it’s unlikely that they’ll have managed successfully to reproduce all real-life correlations between different variables in their fake stats.

  6. Their stats might be true but it doesn’t indicate any “Cuban wonderful health care story”. Cuba’s health stats are worse now relative to the rest of the world than they were before the Castros took over.

    For example Castro apologists often boast about Cuba’s infant mortality rate, which is around the 25th to 30th lowest in the world, quite impressive for a poor country, However in the 1950s Cuba had the 12th lowest infant mortality rate which kinds of puts the ‘achievement’ of Castrocare into perspective.

  7. The people of Cuba are in glorious health. They have to be. You have to a hardy, sturdy soul to put to sea in an old pneumatic tyre trying to escape.

    Infant mortality- no problem.
    Cancer- no problem.


  8. here were some photographs published on the NET some time ago when the idea that Cuba had a first class health service first went the rounds. The pictures were anything but assuring. Somebody must have seen them.

  9. Are comments modded/ revised before appearing? I can’t see what I just posted and didn’t get a “your comment will appear soon” of any other notice.

    Anyway…visit The Real Cuba…

  10. Span, if you hit f5 (or refresh) you get a cached version of the page and so new comments do not show. If you post a comment, it should show. To ensure you are seeing the latest version of the page you can add a “?” to the end of the URL and then any random sequence of letters and/or numbers. Because this represents an entirely new URL string, you will get the latest version.

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