Cuba remains among the few countries with infant mortality rates of four deaths per 1,000 live births, the lowest on our continent. Photo: Anabel Díaz

Preliminary data from the Ministry of Public Health (Minsap) for 2015 indicates that Cuba’s infant mortality rate for the year was 4.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, reaffirming the country as the continental leader, and among the first 20 nations in the world, in terms of this indicator.

For the eighth consecutive year, the national figure has been maintained at less than five. The provinces with the best rates are Pinar del Río (3.4), Holguín (3.8), Granma (3.8), Cienfuegos (3.9), Villa Clara (4.1), Camagüey (4.1), La Habana (4.1), Santiago de Cuba (4.1) and Sancti Spíritus (4.2), while there are 28 municipalities which did not experience the death of a single newborn.

Other noteworthy Minsap statistics show that, during 2015, 125,064 births were recorded, 2,421 more than last year; infant mortality as a result of congenital defects was the lowest in the country’s history (0.9 per 1,000 live births); deaths of children under five years of age was, for the third time, less than six; and the mortality rate for children of pre-school age was 3.5 per 10,000.

All of this was made possible due to the joint efforts of health care workers; the reorganization of medical services to achieve greater quality; the restoration of facilities; the introduction of new technology; and progress in the updating of Cuba’s economic model which began in 2010.

Another accomplishment of 2015 was the recognition of Cuba by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the first country to eliminate mother-child transmission of HIV-AIDS and congenital syphilis, an achievement which was praised around the world.

Ten other illnesses are considered eliminated: polio, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, rubella, parotiditis, tuberculosis meninges, whooping cough, and malaria. While six more do not constitute a health problem, given the low number of cases reported, less than 0.1 per 100,000 inhabitants for leprosy, meningococcus, meningitis resulting from Haemophilus influenza, typhoid fever, human rabies and leptospirosis. An additional 29 infectious diseases are considered controlled, according to international standards.

The Cuban people’s health is guaranteed in the country’s Constitution. Photo: Anabel Díaz

Minsap’s preliminary report likewise indicated that more than 95% of the population has been vaccinated, and that no new cases of measles, rubella or whooping cough were reported in 2015. Likewise, flu shots were made available to vulnerable groups who had not received these vaccinations previously (infants six months to one year of age; asthmatic children three to five years of age; pregnant women; and adults 75 to 84 years of age who had not been vaccinated in previous campaigns.)

The success of efforts in health care to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Cubans are a product of programs initiated since the triumph of the Revolution, which have continued to develop and are more complex and costly than ever.