Submitted: 01 Jul 2012
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Health Promot Perspect. 2012;2(1):9-19.
doi: 10.5681/hpp.2012.002
PMID: 24688913
PMCID: PMC3963654
  Abstract View: 508
  PDF Download: 306

Original Research

No Child or Mother Left Behind; Implications for the US from Cuba’s Maternity Homes

Abstract

Background: Cuba, a "resource-poor" country, provides high-quality, free maternal care despite relatively low per capita health expenditures in comparison to similar expenditures in "resource rich" nations such as Canada and the US. This paper assesses maternal and child healthcare in Cuba, details the system of community-based regional maternity homes, and outlines specific recommendations for the US. Methods: Based on observations during a visit to Cuba, and supplemental research on international health expenditures and health indicators such as infant and maternal mortality, this paper details maternal and child health in Cuba. Results: Cuba utilizes community-based regional maternity homes to provide comprehensive care for women with high-risk pregnancies. This effective strategy of investing in maternal health by safeguarding pregnancies has lowered infant and maternal mortality rates significantly. Cuba has achieved neonatal, infant and under-five mortality rates that are better than or on par with resource rich nations such as the US. Additionally, within the Latin American and Caribbean region, Cuba has a low rate of maternal mortality. Conclusion: Positioning maternal and child health priorities to the policy foreground were a critical step in saving the lives of Cuban women and children. The US may benefit from Cuba's example with respect to maternal and child health. Cuba's model provides important health; rights and policy lessons for all nations—are they resource rich or poor.
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