Today, to develop effectively according to the global economic tendencies and local ideological principles, the health care system of Cuba should balance between focusing on the traditional socialist patterns associated with the gift-giving principles and modern economic and market trends typical for the global community’s progress.
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This controversial situation of balancing between two extremes can be discussed as the direct result of the Soviet Union’s collapse which influenced the health care system of Cuba negatively in relation to provoking the economic crisis and positively in relation to the system’s adaptation to the global market relations and development of the biotech industry.
The health care system of Cuba can be described from two different points because of the significant impact of the Soviet Union’s fall on the country’s economy. Thus, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba “was plunged into a devastating economic crisis known as the Special Period.
As the country plummeted from the ranks of the socialist ‘second world’ to join the ‘third world’, the tightening of the U.S. embargo further exacerbated the crisis” (Andaya 2009: 358).
Although the economic crisis led to the people’s poverty and decline of the health care industry during the first years after the Soviet Union’s fall, the situation also had the positive impact because to avoid the negative effects of the U.S. embargo, Cuba focused on the development of the progressive biotech industry.
The collapse of the Soviet Union changed the economic basics of the health care system’s progress in Cuba, and the government concentrated on the provision of the adequate health care during the most problematic period; thus, the system of family doctors was developed (Burke presentation, October 17, 2013).
However, the ideological norms were preserved because the system of family doctors also reflected the socialist principles, and the tradition of gift-giving was followed within the society as the reaction to the problematic financial situations within the society. Today, “with the shifts in the Cuban economy, market forces stand in a profound tension with the ideology of the gift” (Andaya 2009: 371).
From this perspective, one of the negative effects of the Soviet Union’s collapse on the health care system of Cuba is the necessity to reform the traditional socialist system with references to the requirements of the modern market-based systems (Burke presentation, October 17, 2013). Furthermore, the negative effects of the situation are also associated with the general economic crisis experienced in Cuba.
The absence of the adequate funding within the health care industry stimulates the preservation of the gift-giving traditions with the society as the ways to support the economic status of family doctors (Andaya 2009: 358). This fact supports the idea that Cuba suffers from the economic decline in relation to all the spheres.
Thus, the main negative impacts of the Soviet Union’s collapse on the health care industry of Cuba are the economic shortages associated with the further economic crisis and the necessity to adapt to the U.S. embargo and to the new principles of the market-based systems developed in the world.
However, the Cuban health care system is characterized by the revolutionary approach to creating the system of family doctors, and the focus on this approach can be discussed as the positive effect of the Soviet Union’s collapse as well as the country’s focus on the biotech industry as the way to enter the global market and overcome the issues related to the disadvantageous U.S. embargo.
Andaya, Elise. “The Gift of Health: Socialist Medical Practice and Shifting Material and Moral Economies in Post-Soviet Cuba”. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 23.4 (2009): 357-374. Print.
Burke, Nancy. “Travels in Exceptionalism? Cuban Health(care) on the Island and Around the World”. UC Irvine School of Social Sciences. Irvine, California. October 17 2013. Lecture.