No Harms – Public Health Strong Now

Even with the costs imposed by the embargo, Cuba’s health system is exceptional now.

Barry, Member of the Social Sciences Research Council for the Cuban Working Group of the American Council of Learned Societies, 2010

(Paul Drain & Michele “Fifty Years of U.S. Embargo: Cuba’s Health Outcomes and Lessons” Science Magazine, April, Online:

However, impacts of sanctions on Cuba’s financial systems, medical supplies, and aggregate health measures appear to be attenuated by their successes in other aspects of health care. Despite the embargo, Cuba has produced better health outcomes than most Latin American countries, and they are comparable to those of most developed countries. Cuba has the highest average life expectancy (78.6 years) and density of physicians per capita (59 physicians per 10,000 people), and the lowest infant (5.0/1000 live births) and child (7.0/1000 live births) mortality rates among 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries (11, 26).¶ In 2006, the Cuban government spent about $355 per capita on health, 7.1% of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (11, 26). The annual cost of health care for an American was $6714, 15.3% of total U.S. GDP. Cuba also spent less on health than most European countries. But low health care costs alone may not fully explain Cuba’s successes (27), which may relate more to their emphasis on disease prevention and primary health care, which have been cultivated during the U.S. trade embargo.¶ Cuba has one of the most proactive primary health care systems in the world. By educating their population about disease prevention and health promotion, the Cubans rely less on medical supplies to maintain a healthy population. The converse is the United States, which relies heavily on medical supplies and technologies to maintain a healthy population, but at a very high cost.

Skip to toolbar