Healthcare in Cuba
The Cuban government operates a national health system and assumes fiscal and administrative responsibility for the health care of all its citizens. No private hospitals or clinics are permitted. The present Minister for Public Health is José Ramón Balaguer. An overall worsening in terms of disease and infant mortality rates was observed in the 1960s, as the US embargo against Cuba began to take effect. Recovery occurred by the 1980s. Things have since improved considerably. AIDS is only one-sixth as common on a per-capita basis than in the United States. Like the rest of the Cuban economy, Cuban medical care suffered following the end of Soviet subsidies in 1991; the stepping up of the embargo at this time also had an effect. Cuba has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the region, with the average citizen living to 77.45 years old (just under the United States' 78.11 years. Challenges include relatively low pay of doctors (physicians are paid only 15 dollars a month), poor facilities, poor provision of equipment, and frequent absence of essential drugs. Cubans often rely on sociolismo and corruption.