- Sara Carrillo de Albornoz
The US government's opening of its doors last week to Cuban doctors working in third countries (BMJ 2006;333: 411, 26 Aug) threw light on the number of medical personnel from Cuba who are sent abroad on government schemes. The Cuban health system is promoted by its Communist government as one of the best in the world, with its free access to care and improving health indicators that are similar to those in western European countries.
About 20 000 Cuban doctors are currently working abroad on international missions. Many of them are in Venezuela, whose president since 1999, Hugo Chávez, is a close ally of Castro. Central to Chávez's health policy is the project Misión Barrio Adentro [Into the Neighbourhood], which provides health care for people from poor rural areas and urban slums.
Otto Sanchez, a Cuban doctor working in Miami, is a member of Solidarity Without Borders, a Miami based organisation that helps Cuban doctors who have defected. He worked in …