PROFESSOR John R. Ashton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, stated on a recent visit to Havana that Cuba is a leader in terms of medical support for disaster areas in the Americas
Ashton was a keynote speaker at the 2nd Health and Disasters Conference, attended by international experts, in which he noted that one of Cuba’s major contributions is its willingness to send medical specialists with experience and knowledge to places where they can offer valuable services in a humanitarian response.
Speaking to the press, the UK professor described Cuba’s educational training as impressive, particularly for doctors, including medical students from modest backgrounds, and who, in contrast to many countries, are educated free of charge.
He also praised the Family Doctor and Nurse Program, which serves patients in the community health services and is able to deals with daily problems.
Professor Ashton, who was visiting Cuba for the first time, also made reference to the links between primary, secondary and tertiary care, noting that Cuba’s system is admired internationally.
He highlighted the importance given by Cuba to family medicine, where better services are required at a community level, especially taking into account an increased life expectancy rate approaching 80 years of age, and affirmed that the Cuban system should be an example to the world
Cuba is a small island, but an important one given its spirit of solidarity, according to Ashton, who was born in Liverpool in 1947 and has specialized in psychiatry, general medicine, reproductive medicine and public health.
He has played an active role in developing government public health policy in the UK, in conjunction with the World Health Organization, and has also been involved in promoting the healthy cities initiative, among other activities.
Also present at the conference were Division General Ramón Pardo Guerra, Civil Defense Chief of Staff; Dr. Jorge González, Chancellor of the University of Medical Sciences in Havana; and Guillermo Mesa, director of the Latin American Center for Disaster Medicine. (AIN)