When the Ebola virus began to spread through western Africa in fall 2014, much of the world panicked. Soon, over 20,000 people were infected, more than 8,000 had died, and worries mounted that the death toll could reach into hundreds of thousands. The United States provided military support; other countries promised money. Cuba was the first nation to respond with what was most needed: it sent 103 nurses and 62 doctors as volunteers to Sierra Leone. With 4,000 medical staff (including 2,400 doctors) already in Africa, Cuba was prepared for the crisis before it began: there had already been nearly two dozen Cuban medical personnel in Sierra Leone.… Since many governments did not know how to respond to Ebola, Cuba trained volunteers from other nations at Havana’s Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine. In total, Cuba taught 13,000 Africans, 66,000 Latin Americans, and 620 Caribbeans how to treat Ebola without being infected. It was the first time that many had heard of Cuba’s emergency response teams.… The Ebola experience is one of many covered in John Kirk’s new book Health Care without Borders: Understanding Cuban Medical Internationalism.
Medicine and public health have played important roles in imperialism. With the emergence of the United States as an imperial power in the early twentieth century, interlinkages between imperialism, public health, and health institutions were forged through several key mediating institutions. Philanthropic organizations sought to use public health initiatives to address several challenges faced by expanding capitalist enterprises: labor productivity, safety for investors and managers, and the costs of care. From modest origins, international financial institutions and trade agreements eventually morphed into a massive structure of trade rules that have exerted profound effects on public health and health services worldwide. International health organizations have collaborated with corporate interests to protect commerce and trade. In this article we clarify the connections among these mediating institutions and imperialism.
Although medicine and public health have played important roles in the growth and maintenance of the capitalist system, conditions during the twenty-first century have changed to such an extent that a vision of a world without an imperial order has become part of an imaginable future. Throughout the world, diverse struggles against the logic of capital and privatization illustrate the challenges of popular mobilization. In addition to these struggles, groups in several countries have moved to create alternative models of public health and health services. These efforts—especially in Latin America—have moved beyond the historical patterns fostered by capitalism and imperialism…. All the struggles that we describe remain in a process of dialectic change and have continued to transform toward more favorable or less favorable conditions. However, the accounts show a common resistance to the logic of capital and a common goal of public health systems grounded in solidarity, not profitability.
In 1832, when the global cholera pandemic was approaching Manchester—as a young Frederick Engels was later to recount in The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845)—“a universal terror seized the bourgeoisie of the city. People remembered the unwholesome dwellings of the poor, and trembled before the certainty that each of these slums would become a centre for the plague, whence it would spread desolation in all directions through the houses of the propertied class.” As a result, Engels noted, various official inquiries were commissioned into the condition of the poor. But little was done in the end to combat the social factors that facilitated the spread of the disease.… One can see an analogous situation today in the growing concern that has materialized in the United States and other wealthy nations over the Ebola epidemic in Africa.
Our country did not hesitate one minute in responding to the request made by international bodies for support to the struggle against the brutal [ebola] epidemic which has erupted in West Africa.… This is what our country has always done, without exception. The government had already given pertinent instructions to immediately mobilize and reinforce medical personnel offering their services in this region on the African continent. A rapid response was likewise given to the United Nations request, as has always been done when requests for cooperation have been made.
There are two diametrically opposed conceptions of reading and dyslexia, each with loyal advocates. This analysis will clarify some of the important categories that are needed in order to participate knowledgeably and critically in current discussions about dyslexia.… The first conception is dyslexia as biological disease—medicalized dyslexia. By the medicalization of dyslexia is meant that dyslexia is considered to arise from a pathologic condition of the human brain and mind.… A very different conception of why some people fail to learn to read can be found in the transactional sociopsycholinguistic model of reading, whose most widely cited figure is educator Kenneth S. Goodman. Rather than looking inside the poor reader for the source of the problem, this model looks to the surrounding social context.
Yesterday I analyzed the atrocious act of violence against U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in which 18 people were shot, six died and another 12 were wounded, several seriously, among them the Congresswoman with a shot to the head, leaving the medical team with no alternative other than to try to save her life and minimize, as much as possible, the consequences of the criminal act. (more…)
I am halting a number of important analyses that are currently taking up my time, to refer to two issues that should be known to our people.
The United Nations Organization, at the instigation of the United States, the creator of poverty and chaos in the Haitian Republic, decided to send into Haiti its forces of occupation, the MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) which, by the way, introduced the cholera epidemic into that sister nation. (more…)
About three weeks ago news and photos were published showing Haitian citizens throwing stones and protesting in indignation against the forces of MINUSTAH, accusing it of having transmitted cholera to that country by way of a Nepalese soldier.
The first impression, if one doesn’t get any additional information, is that this deals with a rumour born out of the hatred caused by any occupying army. (more…)
ON Friday, December 3, the UN decided to devote a session of the General Assembly to an analysis of the cholera epidemic in this neighboring country. The news of that decision was hopeful. Surely it would serve to alert international opinion to the gravity of the situation and mobilize support for the Haitian people. At the end of the day, its raison d’être is to confront problems and promote peace. (more…)
There is much to talk about when the United States is involved in a colossal scandal as a consequence of the documents published by Wikileaks, whose authenticity – independent of any other motivation on the part of that website – has not been questioned by anyone.
However, at this moment, our country is immersed in a battle against cholera in Haiti which, in its way, is becoming a threat for the rest of nations of Latin America and others in the Third World. (more…)