UN Elects Cuba to Chair World Health Assembly Even as Cubans Lack
Aspirin, Basic Health
Cuban media hails decision; UN Watch condemns "UN handing propaganda
victory to a dictatorship"
GENEVA, May 19 – The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch criticized
the UN's election today of Cuba to chair the 67th World Health Assembly,
with executive director Hillel Neuer saying the decision "wrongly hands
a coveted propaganda victory to a dictatorship that imprisons
journalists and brutalizes human rights defenders," and that it "enables
Cuba to further perpetuate myths about a health system that is in fact
crumbling, with desperate citizens reduced to asking tourists to bring
them Aspirin and other basic medicines."
The consensus election today by 194 WHO member states chose the sole
candidate, Cuban Health Minister Roberto Tomas Morales Ojeda.
"Why is the UN placing the world's health in the hands of a government
that practices medical Apartheid, with privileged clinics for medical
tourists, while its own impoverished citizens are denied Aspirin and
other basic medicines, with public hospitals that deny their patients
running water or working toilets?" asked Neuer.
State-sponsored media has already trumpeted the anticipated victory,
saying "Cuba has been chosen in large part because of the results and
impact of its health initiatives, within the country and internationally."
While the Cuban articles claimed the Castro regime has achieved numerous
health milestones, experts and international observers say the health
system is in disarray.
- "I haven't seen Aspirin in a Cuban store here for more than a year. If
you have any pills in your purse, I'll take them. Even if they have
passed their expiry date." (Castro's health care system is paid for
through onerous taxation and cannot provide even basic drugs, National
- According to Al Jazeera's Latin America editor and former CNN reporter
Lucia Newman, "I saw many hospitals where there was often no running
water, the toilets did not flush, and the risk of infections - by the
hospital's own admission - was extremely high." Health workers "smuggle
the medicine out of the hospitals." ("The truths and tales of Cuban
- Doctors suffer lamentable working conditions. (Miguel A. Faria, Jr.,
M.D, published in Surgical Neurology 2004,
- The country prioritizes healthcare for tourists instead of their own
http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/cuba/health-myth.htm.) The former
chief neurosurgeon of Cuba lost her job for opposing this discrimination.
- Doctors serving in the government health agencies or ministering to
patients in clinics and hospitals are not informed about basic new
technology or medical breakthroughs. (Source:
Although Cuba has sent thousands of doctors to Venezuela in exchange for
oil, their doctors are considered poorly trained:
- Brazilian medical associations determined that Cuban doctors' training
is substandard. (Source:
- Cuban doctors' exam results are said to be "among the worst of the
average of 600 professionals – ranging in homelands from Argentina,
Bolivia, the United States and European countries. (Source:
While Cuba claims to meet UN and other international health benchmarks,
the data is known to be falsified by the regime:
- "Cuban authorities deliberately falsify statistics on their country's
social condition." (Source: Eric N. Baklanof, Association for the Study
of the Cuban Economy. "Cuba's Long Lie Expectancy," Investor's Business
Daily, April 27, 2007,
- "Many children do not become part of the infant mortality statistics
because they are killed before birth and not cared for after birth".
(Dr. Jose Marti, MD
Cuba's article on the election of its minister trumpeted its victory
over diseases, yet Cuba has cholera:
- "Cuba still battling cholera a year after first cases reported."
- Since July 2012 there has been an "ongoing" outbreak of "more than 700
cases of cholera, including 3 deaths". (Source:
According to Reuters and the BBC, Cuban hospitals are in terrible shape:
- In Havana Psychiatric Hospital, at least "26 psychiatric patients died
- This was blamed on "criminal negligence" and the fact that "the
hospital was in such a bad state that it could not protect people from
the cold" (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8462844.stm).
UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to
monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is
accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special
Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and
as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information.
Source: UN Elects Cuba to Chair World Health Assembly Even as Cubans
Lack Aspirin, Basic Health - UN Watch -