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    Healing Africa:
The Havana Prescription

(42:30 mins) HDTV

[Episode Descriptions]    [Printable Description]    


This film describes how a little island in the Caribbean has set an example in providing medical help to poor communities around the world and sending medical teams wherever a natural disaster occurs. But the main narrative is a thoughtful and detailed account of the influence of Cuban medicine on the development of healthcare in South Africa.
Few people are aware that all over the globe, victims of natural disasters – Tsunami in Aceh Indonesia and Sri Lanka, earthquakes in Chile Haiti and Pakistan have been treated by Cuban medical teams. This documentary also touches on western media’s consistent bias in ignoring Cuba’s role as a massively generous donor to world health- not with dollars –but with doctors.   
After his release from prison, one of Nelson Mandela’s first overseas visits was to Cuba. When he became South African President in 1994 he asked for Cuban help in developing healthcare in a country where doctors were mainly drawn from the middle classes and looked for better paid jobs in the private sector or abroad. Cuba has supplied 500 doctors to South Africa since 1996, but also set up extensive scholarship progammes designed to recruit medical students from SA‘s poorest provinces, offering a free 6 year course  in the expectation that the students would return as doctors motivated to work in their communities.
Another 700 Cuban-trained doctors are expected to qualify in the next 3 years.
The film follows five such students as they receive training in Cuba, and also interview those who have already returned to work as doctors in South Africa. It highlights the differences between the Cuban approach with its emphasis on preventative medicine with its patient-centered approach and the restricted curative approach in South Africa. The five students give a clear account of the clash of healthcare cultures when they return home. They send a clear message that they view the Cuban approach which guarantees the right of everybody in the community to high quality, free, universal medical services as a far better path. South Africa's deputy minister of health Dr Joe Phaahla   “Our hope is that these doctors can helps us move closer to Cuban health outcomes ‘
This documentary also includes archive footage about the deadly Ebola virus in 2014 that spread rapidly in West Africa. Cuba- the first country to respond to the call for international doctors, sent 265 medical personnel to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. In 2015 the UN World Health Organization awarded Cuba’s medical team specializing in Disasters and Serious Epidemics the Dr. Lee Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health.

Watch a clip here.

Eureka Films, Thailand



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