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Cuban Medical Internationalism: Origins, Evolution, and Goals (Studies of the Americas) Hardcover – June 9, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1403983725 ISBN-10: 1403983720 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies of the Americas
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 1 edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403983720
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403983725
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“This is an important and much-needed book. Cuba, a small island of 11 million souls, has some 36,000 medical personnel providing assistance to other countries, many of them too poor to pay for the service. It also has the largest medical school in the world with an enrollment of over 8,000 students from Third World countries. Their only commitment when they graduate is that they return to their home countries and provide medical services to those who can least afford it. In sum, Cuba is credited with saving more lives in the developing countries than all the G-8 countries together. How has it done this? Erisman and Kirk begin to tell us how.”--Wayne S. Smith, Senior Fellow and Director of the Cuba Program at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C.


“John Kirk and Michael Erisman have produced a path-breaking study that has no equal in elaborating the extent and significance of Cuba’s international medical programs. These are a key aspect of Cuba’s foreign policy, as the authors deftly demonstrate by relating medical internationalism to Cuba's political goals and relations with the Third World.”--Philip Brenner, Professor of International Relations, American University; co-author of Sad and Luminous Days: Cuba's Struggle with the Superpowers after the Missile Crisis.

About the Author

H. Michael Erisman is Professor of Political Science at Indiana State University. He is the author of Cuba’s International Relations: The Anatomy of a Nationalistic Foreign Policy (1985), South-South Relations in the Caribbean (1992), and Cuba’s Foreign Relations in a Post-Soviet World (2000). He co-edited (with John M. Kirk) Cuban Foreign Policy Confronts a New International Order (1991), and Redefining Cuban Foreign Policy: The Impact of the ‘Special Period’ (2006). He is a member of the editorial boards of the “Journal of Latin American Society and Politics” and “Cuban Studies.”

John M. Kirk is Professor of Latin American Studies at Dalhousie University in Canada.  He is the author of José Martí: Mentor of the Cuban Nation (1985), and Between God and the Party: Religion and Politics in Revolutionary Cuba (1989). He is the co-author of Sesenta años de relaciones bilaterales: Cuba y Canadá (2007), and the co-editor of Cuba: Twenty-Five Years of Revolution: 1959-1984 (1985), Culture and the Cuban Revolution: Conversations in Havana (2001), A Contemporary Cuba Reader: Reinventing the Revolution (2008), and Competing Voices from Revolutionary Cuba (forthcoming). He is a member of the editorial boards of the journal of the International Institute for the Study of Cuba, and “Cuban Studies”. He is also the editor of the “Contemporary Cuba” series with the University Press of Florida.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark R. Rushton on July 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Cuba is rarely assessed objectively by external critics, typically being viewed through leftover Cold War filters or dismissed as an anachronism for its continuing effort to make socialism work. This book provides an excellent survey and analysis of Cuba's deeds in the international arena of health care, disaster relief and South-South cooperation. Kirk and Erisman effectively answer those critics who see Cuba's international medical programme as having foundations in the economic crisis of the 1990s (i.e., selling medical services to keep the money flowing) and instead provide a comprehensive historical accounting of Cuba's assistance to the developing world. The case is effectively made that Cuba's global health initiatives arise from a commitment to solidarity rather than any profit motive. Of particular interest is the revelation that in situations where Cuban military or technical support has been requested (Algeria, Angola, Congo, etc.), the Cubans ensured that medical and educational staff were significant components of any agreement. One looks forward to a followup study on Cuba's activities in Haiti, as this book was published before the January, 2010 earthquake. Cuban assistance to Haiti pre-dates the disaster by a decade, and is a prime example of the enduring benefits Cuban assistance provides: Cuba's medical teams were on the ground when the quake struck, were and continue to be the largest single medical team working on the island. This is development in practice, rather than empty words.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With an international medical workforce of ~40,000 doctors and nurses, working in ~73 countries, Cuba is currently the unacknowledged global medical superpower of international medical aid and development.

In this book, Kirk and Erisman, 2 Canadian academics have provided perhaps the first detailed history (in english) of post-1960 revolutionary Cuba, it's aims and achievements in improving global health care, in the emergency setting, and in the longer term, through medical aid programmes.

This 190 page book is an easy read for academic and non-academics, and is well resourced. The chapters cover a range of topics from Cuba's Initial Cold War Medical Aid Programs in Africa (the laboratory which resulted in their primary health care model to developing countries), to more contemporary programs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This is the text book that explains the history and philosophy of Cuba and it's commitment to improving global health care.

Dr Katherine Edyvane
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on July 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
John Kirk, Professor of Latin American Studies at Dalhousie University in Canada, and Michael Erisman, Professor of Political Science at Indiana State University, have written a most important book on Cuba's medical internationalism.

As the authors write, Cuba "has resolutely promoted public health as a fundamental human right for all, regardless of wealth, socioeconomic status, race, or geographical origin." So Cuba has a better infant mortality rate, 5/1,000, than the USA's 7/1,000. In 1958, before the revolution, it had been 60/1,000. Life expectancy then was 55 years; it is now 78, better than the USA's.

The authors note, "Cuba has devoted most of its energy and resources to developmental assistance, with health care at the forefront of such efforts. Indeed, the provision of medical aid has been a fundamental principle of the Cuban Revolution from the very beginning, a principle that has flowed from the conviction that medicine should not be perceived as a business, but rather as a right of the citizens and a duty for physicians, regardless of the ability of the patient to pay." They point out, "the Revolution's commitment to and success in building a world-class health care system on the island represents the foundation upon which Havana's medical diplomacy rests."

Cuba's medical schools graduated 83,982 people between 1960 and 2004. Cuba has provided free medical education for thousands of Cubans (it now has 70,000 doctors) and (since 1959) for 52,000 people from 130 other countries. Its Latin American Medical School, with an enrolment of over 8,000 students from Third World countries, is the world's largest medical school. Cuba has helped to set up ten medical schools in other countries.
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