Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The real score on Cuban healthcare and prenatal care

Over the past couple of years this blog has had several posts on the myths about the healthcare system in Cuba outlining both the horrors committed against patients in places like Mazorra; the lack of decent facilities and the systematic effort by the regime to cover up these realities despite exposure by wikileaks. On Saturday, May 21, 2011 a blog post by Claudia Cadelo of Octavo Cerco titled One More Number in Statistics (Un número en la estadística) succinctly exposes the reality lived by a Cuban woman undergoing a pregnancy on the island. Below the English translation is reproduced and the original Spanish can be found here.

One More Number in the Statistics

by Claudia Cadelo

Breakfast 7:00am: 1 C. coffee with milk, 1 tsp sugar, 1 fruit, 1 bread, 1 tsp. butter or mayonnaise. Lunch 1:00pm: 3 large spoons rice; 1/2 C. vegetables; 1/2 C. squash, beets, or carrots; meat, chicken, fish, egg or liver; salad, eat freely; 4 tsps. jam. Dinner 7:00pm ( same as lunch). Snacks 10:00am; 4:00pm; 10:30pm: 1 C milk or yogurt, 1 tsp sugar, fruit.

E. is 38 and pregnant. She feels like one more number in the statistics. The other day she called me when she was leaving the polyclinic to say she was coming over. They couldn’t do any more. Half the tests couldn’t be done because they didn’t have the reagents, even though they sent the prescription paper back smeared with someone else’s blood. She’d been up since five in the morning and at ten still hadn’t had breakfast, and to top it off the doctor asked her, “Honey, why did you wait so long to give birth? Now I have to do an electrocardiogram.”

The first thing she said when she saw me was, “I thought the state of education was bad, but now that I’ve come up against the public health system...” E. is like me, very small, but much skinnier. Before her pregnancy she weighed 89 pounds and now, at two months, she weighs 113 and her hemoglobin count is 12.5. Still, the nutritionist thinks she is underweight and has recommended “moving into a maternal home.” She gave her a copy of a diet to follow to the letter. When she showed it to me I started to laugh, but to her there was nothing funny about it.

She has to get up at seven in the morning to have breakfast and this first meal of the day includes a tablespoon of mayonnaise, whose nutritive properties are unknown to me. Throughout the day she must must meet the standard of six large spoons of rice and two ladles of beans (half at lunch and half at dinner, every day until the baby comes). Meat is not defined by quantity and she must eat a half cup of guava jam every day.

I wonder if the diet is to nurture her or to fatten her up. Probably the doctor isn’t authorized to recommend eating certain products like meat or much fish, but at least they should have the decency not to put pregnant women on diets designed to fatten turkeys to make foie gras. In response to the psychologist’s long awaited, “How do you feel?” E. answered, “Fine, but I’d feel better if I didn’t have to come to this polyclinic any more.”

http://octavocercoen.blogspot.com/2011/05/breakfast-1-c.html

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