In 1953, in his speech known as “History Will Absolve Me,” Fidel Castro exposed the main problems that Cuba suffered at that time: land, industrialization, housing, unemployment, education and health of the people. Regarding the latter, he reported that infant mortality was greater than 60 deceased children per thousand live births; life expectancy did not exceed 55 years of age; 90% of rural children were devoured by parasites and there was one doctor for every thousand inhabitants, but concentrated in the capital.
With the revolutionary triumph in 1959, the Cuban Public Health System began to be built and consolidated, inspired by the guidelines of the Commander in Chief. In each stage of its progressive development, the historical leader of the Revolution played an essential role, with his ideas and personal support. Since its constitution, it was projected as a social integration, oriented not only towards curing diseases, but above all towards their prevention.
To achieve this purpose, the country had two fundamental pillars: community medicine and family medicine, which the Primary Health Care Program in Cuba is based today. In its initial moments, this program's objective was the formation of the Network of the Comprehensive Preventive Curative Polyclinic (1964), which would replace as successive historical links the models of the Community Polyclinic (1974) and the Family Doctor and Nurse (1984).
In 1959 the young revolutionary government found only the School of Medicine at the University of Havana. In 1964, the first 250 doctors fully trained by the Revolution graduated, in the midst of the mass exodus of doctors.
In his Inauguration speech of the ICBP "Victoria de Girón", October 1962, Fidel pointed out: "With a view to the future, the only, the true, the definitive solution is the mass training of doctors. And the Revolution has strength today, It has resources, it has organization and it has men - men!, which is the most important thing - to begin a training plan for doctors in the quantities that are necessary. And not only many, but above all good ones; and not only good as doctors. , but good as men and as women, as patriots and as revolutionaries!"
Regarding the qualities that should characterize young people who enter medical schools, in the act of constitution of the "Carlos J. Finlay" Medical Sciences Detachment, in 1982, he expressed: "[…] to study medicine a vocation is really required. , willingness to study, preference for medicine over any other career... to be a doctor requires exquisite sensitivity, great human quality. What doctors should we train? Fidel asked himself then, answering: "Doctors of the highest quality, scientific quality.", political quality, moral quality and human quality...".
At the National Meeting of Medical Sciences Students in May 1984 he reflected: "[…] I cannot conceive of a finalist medical student who is satisfied with studying at the end, I cannot conceive it. What confidence, what security can be had when going to attend to a citizen, to the children, to the parents, to the brothers; what trust can be had in someone who lacks the will to study, having a mission so important, so vital, so sacred. And regarding the evaluation methods, we have We must work so that this young person is forced to study all year round. We must carry out a relentless fight against conformism in relation to that student who resigns himself to the mediocre grade of a three. Therefore, the idea that we need doctors , and many doctors, should not in the least undermine the principle of rigor [...] We have and are creating enough capacities, enough, more than enough, to enter those that are necessary; but not abandon, under any circumstances, the principle of rigor, and not neglect the selection in the slightest.
We remember the massive execution of vaccination programs, which notably included the carrying out of the first anti-polio vaccination campaign; the increase in the number of pregnant women attended to in prenatal consultations, which increased the number of births carried out in rural units; health education, which began to transform hygienic habits and behavior in the rural population and the creation of the Rural Red Cross; the implementation of the Immunization Program, poliomyelitis was eradicated in 1963 and malaria was eradicated in 1970.
By 1979, Cuba had the lowest maternal mortality rate in Latin America, 29.6 per thousand live births, thanks to the implementation of the Maternal and Child Program.
The year 1983 marks the beginning of a transcendental stage of work in the health system in Cuba. This was the year in which the Maternal and Child Care Program (PAMI) began, which had its predecessor in the Program for the Reduction of Infant and Maternal Mortality, started in 1970. With a more comprehensive vision than its predecessor Since then, PAMI has focused on the health of women, children, adolescents, and family planning.
The Comprehensive Program for the Elderly, for its part, emerged in 1974, is a plan of action and differentiated care for this age group, with the purpose of covering their biological, psychological and social needs, and raising the quality of their life. Hence the emergence of the Grandparents' Circles and the training of Social Workers for specialized attention to this sector of society. This program, in addition to offering unity in favor of the elderly, is applicable at all levels of care, which include not only health, but social security, sports, culture, legislation, among others.
The thoughts and actions of Fidel Castro Ruz on Cuban public health and especially related to the Family Medicine Program, were always linked to the guarantee of health for all the people and accessibility to all quality health services.
The Revolution, led by Fidel, achieved notable achievements for a developing country, blocked by the United States for more than 60 years, which have been a source of pride for Cubans.
Fidel's thoughts and work in matters of Health were not limited to Cuba. With the beginning of medical collaboration in Algeria on May 23, 1963, Cuban health professionals showed the world the value of medicine in times of Revolution. Since then our collaborators have been leaving their indelible mark on the five continents. Until 2022, Cuba has provided service in 165 countries with more than 605,698 collaborators. Since the constitution of the Henry Reeve contingent in 2005, by our Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, 88 brigades have been sent to 56 countries with 13,467 collaborators, three brigades faced Ebola in West Africa with 265 collaborators and 58 brigades faced Covid -19 in 42 countries.
You are an army of hope for the world. On this day we remember the prophetic words of Fidel: “Before you this Humanity will one day have to bow, before you future generations will have to bow…”
On the seventh anniversary of the physical disappearance of the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, Cuba and the world pay tribute to him. He remembers him with the usual admiration and respect and says: “Thank you Fidel.”