Cuba - Health

Sanitation is generally good and health conditions greatly improved after the 1959 revolution. However, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Cuba no longer receives the same level of foreign support and has fallen behind in many of its social services. In spite of this, in 1993 100% of the population was reported to have access to health care. In 2000, 95% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 95% had adequate sanitation.

Infant mortality declined from more than 60 per 1,000 live births before 1959 to 6 in 2000. About 8% of babies born in 1999 were considered low birth weight. Studies show that as of 1998 79% of married women (ages 15 to 49) used contraception. The government claims to have eradicated malaria, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, and tetanus. In 1997, children up to one year of age were immunized as follows: tuberculosis, 99%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 99%; polio, 97%; and measles, 99%.

Life expectancy was an average of 76 years for women and men in 2000 and the overall death rate was 7 per 1,000 people in 1999. In 2000, major causes of death, with incidence per 100,000 people, were circulatory system diseases (235), cancer (124), injuries (61), and infectious diseases (44). There were 15 reported cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 in 1999. The incidence of TB decreased steadily from 1979 to 1991 (503 cases), but there was a reversal in the following years. As of 2001 the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at 2,800, and deaths from AIDS that year were estimated at 120. HIV prevalence was 0.06 per 100 adults.

In 1996 Cuba had 60,129 physicians. As of 1999, there were an estimated 5.3 physicians, 7.8 nurses, 0.9 dentists, and 5.1 hospital beds per 1,000 people. Medical services are now more widely distributed in rural as well as urban areas. All doctors are obliged to work for the rural medical service in needy areas for two years after graduation. All health services are provided free of charge. As of 2000, total health care expenditure was estimated at 6.1% of GDP.

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