£810 / $1295 / €985
Cuba is one of the world's last unreformed communist countries. The healthcare sector is highly centralised and controlled by the government. The new regime has made small changes. However, Raul Castro is more open to
liberalising the economy whilst still retaining communist values, looking to China's example.
Unlike many communist countries, Cuba has always made a priority of healthcare. Medical research has a good reputation, and the country trains more doctors per head of population than anywhere else in the world. However, in
reality, healthcare provision is often very basic. The country lacks the funds to expand and upgrade equipment, which generally needs to be imported. Patients may therefore have good access to doctors and facilities, but advanced
treatments are far harder to come by.
Fellow communist nation China is loaning Cuba US$350.0 million to repair and renovate its hospitals as it looks to boost economic ties in South America. China also supplies a good amount of Cuba's medical device imports.
Cuba is politically close to Venezuela. A joint Cuban-Venezuelan oil venture is evidence of this. Cuba pays for the energy partly by collaborating on joint projects, providing healthcare staff, for example, for Operation Miracle and
Cuba recorded medical device imports valued at US$74.3 million for the twelve months ended October 2012. While this was a fall of 2.3% compared with the previous twelve month period, data remain incomplete for 2012 and are
therefore almost certainly an undercount. Cuba does not release official import and export data so this information is gathered by checking the imports and exports in other countries relating to Cuba.
Relations between the USA and Cuba are marginally warmer, with the US reiterating in July 2012 that it is open to discussion with Cuba, subject to certain conditions. That said, US companies cannot directly supply the market
because of the trade embargo. The US embargo does not really hurt Cuba because alternative products are available from other countries.
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