Cuban Medical Internationalism: Domestic and International Impacts
Abstract

Since 2003, Cuba has dramatically expanded its decades-long program of international humanitarian missions. This article explores the political, economic, gender and racial equality dimensions of Cuba's international missions at various scales of analysis. At the macro-level, medical export services have in recent years replaced tourism as a source of hard currency in Cuba, with positive political and economic results. Their impacts on the domestic front are complex. In Cuba, health workers' devalued salaries in a dual economy are a substantive incentive to volunteer for missions abroad. The expansion of international medical missions is thus a means for health professionals—a large part of whom are female, black or mulato—who are otherwise disadvantaged in the dual economy, to improve their livelihoods. It is also re-structuring the delivery of health care in Cuban neighborhoods.


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