With no solution in sight regarding infant mortality, residents of Chicago’s South Side, home to numerous predominantly Black neighborhoods, have resorted to mentors from the Cuban Ministry of Public Health for help.
Why? The small socialist island, though it has endured a half-century economic blockade imposed by the United States, has an infant mortality rate (4.3 per 1,000 people) lower than its neighbor to the north (5.7 per 1,000 people), according to the World Health Organization.
In fact, Cuba’s infant mortality rate is significantly lower than some of the poorest parts of the United States. A good example is the neighborhood of Englewood. With an infant mortality rate of 14.5 babies per 1,000, its statistics mirrors that of war-torn Syria.
“Cuba is not a rich country,” said Dr. Jose Armando Arronte-Villamarin, one of the Cuban doctors helping the people of Chicago’s South Side. “(Therefore) we have to develop the human resources, at the primary health care level.”
American citizen Steve Singh Gill, a full-time student at Cuba’s Latin American Medical School outside Havana, sits up tall in his lab coat talking with the assurance of the doctor he will become in a few more years.
“There’s a famous phrase that the doctor who only knows of medicine knows nothing of medicine, meaning that we have to be integrated doctors, that we need to know about medicine, but we [also] need to know about our community. We need to know that the source of illnesses really lies in community factors, community conditions, social conditions, economic conditions, and environmental conditions,” Singh Gill told Cuba Trade.