Clare Wenham & Sonja Kittelsen: Cuba's role in global health security
In BMJ Global Health, 2020.
Clare Wenham & Sonja Kristine Kittelsen
Cuba has been largely absent in academic and policy discourse on global health security, yet Cuba’s history of medical internationalism and its domestic health system have much to offer contemporary global health security debates. In this paper, we examine what we identify as
key traits of Cuban health security, as they play out on both international and domestic fronts. We argue that Cuba demonstrates a strong health security capacity, both in terms of its health systems support and crisis response activities internationally, and its domestic disease control activities rooted in an integrated health system with a
focus on universal healthcare. Health security in Cuba, however, also faces challenges. These concern Cuba’s visibility and participation in the broader global health security architecture, the social controls exercised by the state in managing disease threats in Cuban territory, and the resource constraints facing the island—in particular, the effects of the US embargo. While Cuba does not frame its disease control activities within the discourse of health security, we argue that the Cuban case demonstrates that it is possible to make strides to improve capacity for health security in resource-constrained settings. The successes and challenges facing health security in Cuba, moreover, provide points of reflection relevant to the pursuit of health security globally and are thus worth further consideration in broader health security discussions.