That year, Cuba’s fertility rate was reported as below average compared to other Latin American and Caribbean countries and amounted to 1.6 children per woman. At the same time, infant mortality stood at 3.8 deaths per thousand life births, a value that has decreased in recent years. However, the overall death rate in the country had been rising even before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. With 9.15 deaths per thousand inhabitants in 2019, Cuba’s death rate stands above the regional average.
The world’s highest doctor densityCuba reported spending the equivalent of 11 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare in 2020. Based on that figure, the Caribbean nation spends a higher share of its GDP on the sector than any other country in Latin America. The healthcare system is financed and administered by the government, which has established preventive measures as the core of a community-based structure. While a lot of services are free of charge, people do have to pay costs related to certain medical interventions, and medical supplies might not be available. The country has faced shortages of necessary materials and medications related to restrictions on the commercial exchange of medical goods. Partly as a result of these shortages, Cuba has devoted a portion of its resources on research and development within the sector.
However, what stands out about the Cuban healthcare system is the nation’s number of doctors. With an estimated 8.58 physicians per thousand inhabitants, the Caribbean archipelago is the country with the highest density of doctors worldwide. This has allowed the nation to send medical personnel to other countries. While Cuban physicians have provided services abroad, particularly after natural disasters, the specific aspects of the country’s medical international and national programs have been disputed, with characteristics such as salaries and working conditions pointed out as topics of concern. Locally, the country hosts an international medical university, the Latin American School of Medicine, which receives students from around the world.
The COVID-19 pandemicAs of November 2021, Cuba has reported nearly one million COVID-19 infections and over eight thousand deaths within its territory, placing the country below more populated nations such as Brazil and Mexico, not only in terms of total figures, but also considering mortality rates. As of August 2021, close to seven million tests had been administered locally.
The Caribbean country started its vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in May 2021. By November of that year, the territory ranked among the countries with the highest vaccination rates worldwide, with a total of over 230 vaccinations per hundred inhabitants. Two of the vaccines that have been widely administered within the nation are locally produced and had not yet been approved for use by the World Health Organization as of November 2021. Cuba was the first country in the world that authorized vaccinating children under 12 years of age.