Revolutionary Doctors gives readers a first-hand account of Venezuela’s innovative and inspiring program of community health care, designed to serve—and largely carried out by—the poor themselves. Drawing on long-term participant observations as well as in-depth research, Brouwer tells the story of Venezuela’s Integral Community Medicine program, in which doctor-teachers move into the countryside and poor urban areas to recruit and train doctors from among peasants and workers. Such programs were first developed in Cuba, and Cuban medical personnel play a key role in Venezuela today as advisors and organizers. This internationalist model has been a great success—Cuba is a world leader in medicine and medical training—and Brouwer shows how the Venezuelans are now, with the aid of their Cuban counterparts, following suit.
But this program is not without its challenges. It has faced much hostility from traditional Venezuelan doctors as well as all the forces antagonistic to the Venezuelan and Cuban revolutions. Despite the obstacles it describes, Revolutionary Doctors demonstrates how a society committed to the well-being of its poorest people can actually put that commitment into practice, by delivering essential health care through the direct empowerment of the people it aims to serve.
Read an excerpt in Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal
Read a review in People’s World
What a terrific book! I have been researching Cuban medical internationalism for several years, and found Steve Brouwer’s book an excellent, insightful first-person account of how Cuban medical cooperation (and not aid!) is changing the face of the developing world.
The Cuban medical education model, so eloquently described in this book, has not merely transformed health care in much of Central and South America. It has shown doctors and medical students who work in the unjust and dysfunctional U.S. health care system that another world is possible.
Venezuela and Cuba clearly show that the basic human right of access to medical and health care in time of need is not dependent on the level of economic development. Venezuela and Cuba are not rich countries yet, and in spite of this, health care reaches the majority of their populations. They should be considered points of reference for poor countries that want to break with the underdevelopment of health. This book is a rigorous and balanced account of how they did it.
Revolutionary Doctors tells the story of Cuba’s extraordinary medical personnel who leave their homes and families to support radical struggles for health care abroad. And it shows how this struggle is taken up in places like Venezuela, where poor communities are organizing to provide health care from the ground up. This is a story that deserves to be known.
Steve Brouwer is one of the nation’s best front-line reporters from the ongoing class war.