An image of Cuban President Raúl Castro is seen on a street in Havana on April 5. (Enrique De La Osa/Reuters)

Regarding the March 27 Outlook essay “Five myths: Cuba ”:

Christopher Sabatini’s sweeping critique of Cuba’s health-care system was strikingly bereft of evidence and relied entirely on scattered anecdotes from a few reports to support his claims. This is not surprising given that the evidence overwhelmingly contradicts his analysis.

After acknowledging the undisputed gains of Cuba’s universal health-care system in primary and preventive health, Sabatini claimed that Cuba’s advanced health care is “flagging.” In fact, Cuba has cutting-edge research centers in fields such as genetic engineering and neuroscience, and academic journals in all major medical specialties. According to the organization Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba, Cuban doctors have performed more than 6,000 liver, kidney and heart transplants. Cuba’s biotech sector also has long been a leading exporter of pharmaceuticals.

Sabatini’s claim of a physician shortage was even more perplexing given that Cuba has far more physicians per capita than the United States, which, unlike Cuba, does suffer from a shortage of primary-care physicians. Cuba’s physician workforce includes more than 20,000 specialists in more than 60 fields, almost as many specialists per capita as the United States has in physicians overall.

Of course, Cuba has often experienced shortages of medical supplies, but this is not surprising for a poor country subjected to a five-decades-long embargo.

Sammy Almashat, Washington

The writer is a researcher with
Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.