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Monday, July 09, 2012

Cholera outbreak in the Socialist Workers' Paradise

According to the Miami Herald, a cholera outbreak in Cuba has killed 15 people and sickened hundreds more. State security agents who "don't want alarming reports to get out" have locked down the hospital involved:
The first cholera outbreak in Cuba in a century has left at least 15 dead and sent hundreds to hospitals all but sealed off by security agents bent on keeping a lid on the news, according to reports Friday.
“There are 1,000-plus cases” in the southeastern province of Granma, said Yoandris Montoya, who lives in Bayamo, the provincial capital. Security agents have locked down the city’s hospital, he added, but staff told him the situation inside is “chaotic.”
Santiago Marquez, a physician in the neighboring town of Manzanillo, said there is “a lot of panic” in the region because of the lack of official information about the intestinal disease.
Cuba’s Public Health Ministry, which rarely makes public any information that could give the island a negative image, declared Tuesday it had “controlled” an outbreak of cholera that had killed three people and affected 50 others in Granma province. But unofficial reports from the region Friday indicated the disease was continuing to spread, with hundreds more suspected cases jamming hospitals in Manzanillo and Bayamo. Montoya said more cases were reported in nearby Niquero and Pilón.
Cuba is, of course, the home of the exemplary health care system featured in Michael Moore's 2007 movie Sicko, in which he famously took several ailing 9-11 relief workers to the island paradise for medical treatment. At the time, the Communist newspaper Worker's World described the stunt in glowing terms:
In “Sicko,” Moore takes a number of 9/11 relief workers to Cuba to receive health care. These workers have suffered from a number of severe respiratory and other problems without U.S. government support for their needs.
The boats first traveled to Guantánamo Bay—where, despite a systematic pattern of detainee torture that has received worldwide condemnation, the U.S. claims its prisoners receive high-end health care. After being denied services there, the group ends up at Havana’s central hospital.
In an article entitled “’Sicko’ Stars Thank Moore for Cuba Trip,” the May 19 Associated Press reports: “There, the film shows the group getting thorough care from kind doctors. They don’t have to fill out any long forms; health care is free in the Communist nation, after all.” The group received medical tests and services to deal with conditions ranging from reflux problems to eye and nose infections and dental problems.
Salon.com states, “The pathos of the story makes [Moore’s] point for him. A poor Caribbean island, whatever its ideology, can afford health care for everyone while we do not. The only possible conclusion is that our society has chosen not to.”
This conclusion is all the more startling given the history of the U.S. blockade against Cuba.
...
Despite [the blockade], Cuba has continued to offer free, comprehensive health care to all its citizens. In addition, since 1963 Cuba has exported its exemplary health care services around the world, sending doctors and its own technological advancements in medicine to countries throughout Latin America and Africa.
Cuba provided medical support after the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan. When Hurricane Katrina coupled with U.S. government negligence to ravage the lives of the people of the U.S. Gulf Coast, Cuba immediately offered its assistance—an offer that was arrogantly and callously rejected by the Bush administration.
Cholera is a bacterial infection caused primarily by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person. It is almost non-existent in the developed world as a result of effective sanitation and drinking water treatment; the last major outbreak in the US was in 1911. One has to wonder how this could happen in a country that is held up as a paragon of government-run universal health care, although I'm sure that somehow the US blockade will be blamed. It's a lot easier for some people than concluding that a dysfunctional political and economic system that can't treat its sewage and water is responsible.

 I wonder if Michael Moore would visit Havana's central hospital now? Canadians who love to vacation in the Communist Utopia should probably get their shots first.

5 comments:

Frances said...

Did this come from Haiti? Cholera broke out there after being brought by foreign troops helping out after the earthquake (not Canadian; Asian). Cholera is typically an Asian disease; India is one country that has issues.

That being said, this is a disease spread mainly where there is insufficient sanitation. Proper human waste disposal is crucial, as are basic measures such as hand-washing. So if the disease is as widespread as reported, there has been a crucial breakdown of human waste handling along with proper sanitation procedures.

Brrr said...

Frances, you're definitely on the right track to explain what's going with respect to this outbreak.

The biggest issue in Cuba is a complete lack of public capital to repair and upgrade infrastructure. The Blockade is strangling them financially, and when a water main breaks, it remains unrepaired for a very long time. When there's no running water, sanitation becomes a very serious issue, and things like cholera are the result.

So, congratulations America, once again in your quest to teach another nation some sort of punitive lesson, you end up killing innocent children in the process.

Eric said...

Brr:

I knew it was only a matter of time before someone blamed the US for "killing innocent children". Give me a break. The US trade embargo was exactly that: a US embargo. For decades the Soviet Union propped up Cuba's regime, and the rest of the world including Russia, Latin America, the EU, China and of course Canada is free to trade with Cuba to its heart's content.

The truth is that Cuba produces nothing of value that the rest of the world wants, so there's nothing to trade, embargo or no embargo. The only thing Cuba has that the rest of the world values is cheap Caribbean vacations, and I'm sure the sewage is treated just fine in the gated tourist resorts of Varadero.

Why do you think there's "a complete lack of public capital to repair and upgrade infrastructure"? It's because Castro has destroyed the economy of Cuba and stifled the creativity and entrepreneurship of its people to the point where it is no longer able to treat its own sewage. That has nothing to do with the US.

Pissedoff said...

So just don't let that Whine and Snail commie reporter back into Canada.

Brrr said...

Eric, the blockade does a lot more than you seem to think. The US routinely cuts off relations with foreign companies that trade with Cuba. The US also will not allow any ship that stops in Cuba to come to the US for 6 months. That means Cuba is left out of most trips to and from other nations. Nothing going in or out strangles their economy.

Cuba's economic woes are 100% the US' fault. That's the purpose of the blockade.