The New Dominican Health Minister Owes ‘Everything’ to Cuba

(Telesur) – If not for Cuba’s superior and free social programs, Kenneth Darroux wouldn’t have achieved his life’s dream of becoming a physician.

The Dominican Republic’s Health Minister Kenneth Darroux thanked Cuba on Friday for giving him the opportunity to study to become a doctor, which paved the way to his current position.

“Yes, my dad was a primary school teacher; he could make ends meet but where would my dad get the US$500,000 to send me to achieve my dreams of being a doctor. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to be,” Darroux said in a report by the Dominican Republic’s state news agency.

The health minister said his father would probably have “mortgage(d) his home which he worked his whole life to build. So we really cannot talk enough about the contribution of high level tertiary degrees which Cuba is making … We really have to applaud the generosity of the Cuban Government to continue to (offer its) scholarship program throughout the years. They never faltered for even one year.”

Cuba’s health care system has long been one of the best in Latin America, in spite of the more-than four-decades long U.S. embargo it has been forced to endure.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said “Cuba should be the envy of many other nations” in terms of health care, highlighting that the socialist stronghold “demonstrates how much nations can do with the resources they have if they focus on the right priorities — health, education, and literacy.”

Other organizations whose outlook and policy goals do not necessarily align with revolutionary Cuba have also lauded the system. Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn once said that Cuba “has done a great job on education and health.”

Cuba’s health system focuses on preventing illness rather than treating it. Clinic visits are free and encouraged, allowing for early detection of health issues. As a result, Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate and higher life expectancy than the U.S, according to the CIA Factbook and Pan American Health Organization.

The Dominican Republic has taken great strides to reforming its health care system since 2001, and the impact of Cuba’s approach has clearly left a lasting impact on the Dominican Republic’s health minister.

“I owe everything I am today to the Cuban Government and I’m hoping that the relationship between Cuba and Dominica can continue for the next millennium,” Darroux concluded.

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