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According to the daily Granma newspaper, PAHO director Carisse Etienne highlighted Cuba as one of the few countries in the region that provides free universal healthcare to its people.
Etienne praised Cuba’s policy of medical diplomacy, or health cooperation with other countries, noting more than 30,000 Cuban doctors and healthcare workers are currently serving in 66 countries, representing “a major contribution to human development.”
Cuba currently also hosts doctors for training and education from many countries, including South Africa. A Toronto Star report in June 2012 found that students from 110 countries receive training in Cuba, with large numbers granted full scholarships there.
The Cuban healthcare system has recently garnered much media attention, with some praising and others panning its levels of efficiency, because of the number of medical relief missions Havana sends to areas struck by natural disasters, such as Haiti and Pakistan.
Medical care in Cuba has advanced so far that it has the highest life expectancy rate among developing countries, comparable with the US, according to the United Nations Development Report.
Etienne later met with General Raul Castro, President of the councils of State and Ministers.