¡Salud! - Synopsis
out what puts Cuba on the map in the quest for global health ...
A timely examination of human values and the health
issues that affect us all, ¡Salud! looks at the curious case of Cuba, a cash-strapped country
with what the BBC calls ‘one of the world's best health systems.' From the shores of Africa to the
Americas, !Salud! hits the road with some of the 28,000 Cuban health professionals serving in 68
countries, and explores the hearts and minds of international medical students in Cuba -- now numbering 30,000, including
nearly 100 from the USA. Their stories plus testimony from experts around the world bring home the competing agendas
that mark the battle for global health-and the complex realities confronting the movement to make healthcare everyone's
Against the alarming backdrop of the global health crisis and deteriorating public health systems in even
the richest nations, ¡Salud! tells the little-known story of Cuba: a poor country overcoming
its lack of resources to provide universal health care and help other developing nations do the same.
documentary, ¡Salud! is directed by Academy Award nominee Connie Field and co-produced by
Gail Reed. The film spans three continents to look at the philosophy and health professionals placing Cuba on the map
in the worldwide movement to make health care a global birthright. Today, Cubans are among the world's healthiest
people, despite the island's poverty. Cuba's volunteer corps now posts 28,000 health professionals in 68 countries;
and Cuban medical schools will graduate an unprecedented 100,000 new doctors from developing countries over the next decade.
The film's cameras reach into The Gambia, rural South Africa, coastal villages of Honduras and river settlements
in the Amazon, where a Cuban is often the first doctor a poor community has ever seen. In some nations they staff entire health
systems. In all, they take with them the experience and philosophy of their own community-oriented, preventive and universal
health care model fundamentally at odds with a global wave of healthcare privatization.
questions what propels Cuban doctors to serve where most others won't, and grapples with the tensions their
presence sometimes provokes.
A FILM ABOUT THE PRESSING HEALTH ISSUES THE WORLD FACES TODAY...
probes the competing agendas that mark the battle for global health. The film opens in a South Africa
freed from apartheid, but bound by its social and economic legacy. The challenge: provide health care for the
country's majority for the first time in history. One problem: a massive brain drain of qualified health professionals.
One decision: turn to Cuba for doctors and medical educators. Explains former Director General of Health, Dr.
Ayanda Ntsaluba: "Cuba shared our philosophy of health equity, prevention-oriented care and training doctors for
In Venezuela, the film takes viewers into barrios on Caracas
hillsides and deep into the Amazon, where the largest contingent of Cuban health professionals now works, focusing on their
role in a country undergoing dramatic change.
In Honduras, Cubans' service in
poor, indigenous communities pits the public against the country's medical establishment, ensnaring in the dispute a government
already straining under healthcare budget cuts mandated by the IMF.
By contrast, in The Gambia-one
of the world's smallest, poorest nations-we find government taking the lead to bring health care to all. Over
100 Cuban doctors join local health workers at new clinics and hospitals across the country. Comments Dr. Yankuba Kassama,
The Gambia's Minister of Health: "Our infant mortality is down, life expectancy up ... We wouldn't be able to
narrate this success story without the help of the Cubans."
TRAINING HEALERS TO PROMOTE HEALTH, NOT SIMPLY TREAT
Cubans can't stay abroad forever: home-grown doctors are needed with a commitment to serve the
underserved. ¡Salud! offers a rare glimpse into the Latin American Medical School (ELAM)
in Havana, now the largest medical school in the world. There, 12,000 low-income students from 27 countries-including
nearly 100 from the USA-receive a free medical education in exchange for pledging to return to poor communities when they
graduate. Students share their dreams and concerns about a world where values learned in their training are not always rewarded.
HEALTH FOR ALL BE POSSIBLE?
Through the Cuban experience, the film challenges us to reflect on the larger questions:
What will it take to stop disease from decimating poor countries and reaching around the globe? How can we get enough
doctors and health workers to where they are needed most? Do governments have a responsibility for the health
of their citizens?
In today's world, shouldn't every person be born with the right to a healthy chance
¡Salud, 93 minutes,is produced and directed by Academy Award nominee Connie Field (The
Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter; Freedom on My Mind) and co-produced by Gail Reed.