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vendredi 23 octobre 2009

Orchestrated Poverty and Good Health

Whenever you come across a situation of Ill Health of a Society, such as Haiti, one can conclude Poverty as a root cause, or at least one of the major causes of societal sicknesses. (Please watch the excellent video on youtube of Paul Farmer: This I believe). Poverty of Misery!
Poverty builds character, the erstwhile masters used to say and as Neruda has protested: Only the rich believe that poverty can build character..
In Cuba, you can say there is an orchestrated poverty, a poverty of material things without great misery. Which country can boast of a dentist in every school in the country, no village without a doctor and doctor to population ratio of 1:134? it is a kind of poverty without misery, and the visitors will add, with an enormous amount of joy which is palpable..they are not mutually exclusive..
Lack of social gradienst, with desperate poverty and utter luxury (one sees that in every single central/south american country), gives another meaning to lack of material goods and inability to travel at will. We do need material goods, but do we need an excess of them? ( as Dalai Lama has repeatedly exhorted: dont look for happiness in material things from outside).

As American Indians say, it is the misery that we hate, not the lack of money. Also the Indians dislike the certain belief that all minorities under oppression share a common sentiment or culture. they refuse to be grouped together with other minorities, and cringe when white or black americans say, they have a bit of indian blood or they were descended from cherokee princesses!They resent being grouped together with other "minorities" especially Blacks, since the Indians would proclaim.. we know which tribe we come from..

Today I spoke with a Cuban colleague attending the IDF meeting in Montreal. At the Cuban Desk in the Global Village of the conference, many an emigrant Cuban doctor, whether from USA/Canada or South America, stopped by to chat and express their nostalgia.. We wonder.. what is this about Cuba, what makes these people leave and at the same time long for it with such a fervour? You don't notice it among emigrants from other countries.. poor developing countries, from where people emigrate for economic reason, the same reason given for emigration from Cuba as well..

These people are better off financially, without doubt, but are they better off emotionally? that is the subject that comes to my mind.. perhaps orchestrated poverty and good health, physical as well as emotional goes hand in hand, perhaps, perhaps!..those who have emigrated from Cuba make do, like the cubans inside the island make do, only in the former case it is emotional equilibrium and the latter it is the monetary stability.. Emotions vs Economy.. neither group have a control over it...

Coming back to the first lines, whatever means you look at and judge Cuba by, even in these difficult times, Cuba and Cubans enjoy the best of health.. Does the emotional satisfaction and the social satisfaction that gives rise to it or rises from it.. contribute to that? You be the judge..

Infant Mortality Rates: per 1000 live births
Cuba 6.4 Argentina 14.29 Mexico 19.63 Malaysia 16
Murders per 100 000 of the population
Jamaica 49 Belize 30 Argentina 5.27 Malaysia 2.31 Cuba NEGLIGIBLE .. In the ten years that I could closely follow this trend, I heard of two murders in the country.. one of a cuban american who had just arrived in the country who was murdered on his way out of havana ( a family feud?) and another a teenage fantasy killing in the Oriente..
Literacy Rate, per cent of the population
Malaysia 88.7 Mexico 91 Cuba 99.8

These are my thoughts, on this fine autumn evening, sitting at the city of lights and love, missing tremendously mi isla Rica, mi Cuba..