• Progress and Revolution: Health Ideologies Among Cuban Doctors Working in Bolivia

      Morales, Gabriela (The University of Arizona., 2010-05)
      The purpose of the study is to examine the health ideologies of Cuban doctors working on volunteer missions in Bolivia. The Cuban government has been sending medical humanitarian aid to countries in need since the 1960's, and Cuban doctors have been providing free medical care in Bolivia since March 2006. In addition to establishing "sanitary posts" in rural areas that otherwise would have little access to care, the Cuban medical brigade has worked in Bolivian hospitals and clinics, instituted several ophthalmology centers, and funded Bolivian students to study medicine in Cuba. I interviewed Cuban doctors working in a variety of medical settings around La Paz, El Alto, and Caranavi. My research revealed that Cuban doctors frame their health work in terms of progress and social revolution. They describe their work in Bolivia as a way to uphold the ideals of the Cuban revolution by expressing solidarity with the poor and spreading social equality. They see their mission not only as providing free healthcare, but also as transforming health practices in Bolivia. Through education campaigns, they seek to raise awareness about health issues and thereby change what they see as the poor "health culture" of Bolivians. For the Cuban doctors, health education goes hand in hand with free health care as a means to bring progress and equality to Bolivians.