Sergio del Valle Jimenez

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 17 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:162
  1. Jeanne Lenzer

    Minister of health and hero of the Republic of Cuba

    Cuban physician Sergio del Valle Jimenez, who joined Fidel Castro’s revolutionary forces as a doctor and soldier, said that guerrilla doctors must be doubly human to save not only the lives of the wounded but also the causes for which they fight.

    Del Valle served in various capacities during events in Cuba that would have ripple effects around the world. After the overthrow of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista on 1 January 1959, he rose to position of commander. He was a trusted adviser to Castro during the unsuccessful US invasion at Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) in 1961. He became the army chief of staff during the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. He also helped carry out land reform asan agriculture director before he became the head of the nation’s internal security apparatus—a position he left to become the minister of health.

    As the minister of health from March 1979 to January 1986, del Valle oversaw some highly controversial healthcare decisions that have been both praised and condemned. One policy that has been largely praised was the 1983 decision to destroy millions of …

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