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An issue of high social sensitivity: primary health care and the role of the family doctor and nurse aroused the interest of radio listeners during the broadcast of the program Aqui el pueblo, which in its 80th broadcast placed it at the center of the debate.
On this occasion, the space of the Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) was headed by Michael Betancourt Dueña, member of the office of the aforementioned political organization at that time, responsible for the area of interest in the social sector, and Eulexis Rodríguez Armada, deputy governor of the province.
In the presence of health sector managers and public entities and organizations supporting this important service, the radio proposal sparked exchanges with the public, highlighting the successes and dissatisfaction among the population.
In presenting the topic, the Batancourt Doina branch confirmed that it is one of the branches most affected by the stifling blockade imposed by the United States, which affects the real problems it suffers from. The Family Physician and Nurse Practitioner Program (PMEF), established 40 years ago, has become the core of the national health system. He said that prevention, education and protection are the procedures that define the work of these professionals in communities.
Dr. Yajeen Pomares Pérez, Regional Health Director, noted the current situation of CMEF offices in the region. He spoke about the transformations aimed at improving the health situation of the population and about improving the fund, which is being developed, as he put it, through political will.
As part of primary care, Cienfuegos has 20 polyclinics (two of which offer hospitalization services) and 395 offices, 42 of which are located in hard-to-reach places and 41 in at-risk neighborhoods, Pomares Pérez reported. He also pointed out that the sector is going through a complex phase, represented by a shortage of medicines and supplies, an aging population, and high rates of disease, as well as difficult social conditions that lead to reorganization in different places.
Among the weaknesses, the directive cited the fact that of the 384 CMEFs here, 368 have a permanent doctor and, therefore, do not achieve full coverage. The good news is that today the system is structured to ensure that offices have specialists. Hiring new doctors for January will improve the situation.
As usual, the people here allowed listeners to hear their opinions through phone calls and permits to some municipalities. In general, listeners agreed on the dissatisfaction related to the absence of professionals in CMEF, the shortage of medicines and the resulting problems in their distribution and marketing, although there was also no shortage of praise and thanks for the dedication of those who ensure the health of people in the community.
This recognition comes not only from patients, but from organizations such as the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), and the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), which contribute to the work and do joint work with these professionals.
In this regard, Ana Ives Gomez Hernandez, Secretary General of the Federal Doctors Union in the province, stated that there is an urgent need for more activity by members of the health team. “If we want the family doctor and nurse program to succeed, there must be support from mass organizations, and this is evident in prevention and support in measures such as vaccination, care for bedridden people and mothers of three children and the production of medicinal plants,” he said.
Here people also shared with listeners the experiences of health professionals working in primary care. This was the case of Dr. Javier Cartaya Aragon, family physician, third-year resident in comprehensive general medicine, from the municipality of Lajas. As he spoke, transportation and other difficulties do not prevent him from reaching the rural settlement every day where he provides medical assistance while carrying out preventive measures.
The governorate’s health director described what happened during the dispatch as timely, which left the way open for review and evaluation procedures for the various aspects it addressed: the stability of the family doctor and nurse and the lack of medicines and supplies. He stressed: “We must continue to evaluate them to provide a timely response.”
Summing up the radio proposal, member of the party’s regional office, Michael Betancourt Doina, stated that the Cuban health system would not abandon the family doctor and nurse program, through which important health care functions had been strengthened. The quality has been improved, it has contributed to increasing the life expectancy of citizens and has shown that, in critical periods, it reduces the effects and, in the vast majority of cases, brings the coexistence of professionals with their families closer to the kinship levels of patients.
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