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No Child or Mother Left Behind; Implications for the US from Cuba’s Maternity Homes

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Author(s): Michelle Bragg | Taraneh R. Salke | Carol P. Cotton | Debra Anne Jones

Journal: Health Promotion Perspectives
ISSN 2228-6497

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 9;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: Maternal and child health | Community health | Public health | Cuba

ABSTRACT
Background: Cuba, a “resource-poor” country, provides high-quality, free maternal care despiterelatively low per capita health expenditures in comparison to similar expenditures in “resourcerich” nations such as Canada and the US. This paper assesses maternal and child healthcare inCuba, details the system of community-based regional maternity homes, and outlines specificrecommendations for the US.Methods: Based on observations during a visit to Cuba, and supplemental research on internationalhealth expenditures and health indicators such as infant and maternal mortality, this paperdetails maternal and child health in Cuba.Results: Cuba utilizes community-based regional maternity homes to provide comprehensivecare for women with high-risk pregnancies. This effective strategy of investing in maternal healthby safeguarding pregnancies has lowered infant and maternal mortality rates significantly. Cubahas achieved neonatal, infant and under-five mortality rates that are better than or on par withresource rich nations such as the US. Additionally, within the Latin American and Caribbean region,Cuba has a low rate of maternal mortality.Conclusion: Positioning maternal and child health priorities to the policy foreground were a criticalstep in saving the lives of Cuban women and children. The US may benefit from Cuba's examplewith respect to maternal and child health. Cuba's model provides important health; rightsand policy lessons for all nations—are they resource rich or poor.
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