Che Guevara's daughter praises NHS

Campaign News | Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Report in the Derby Telegraph on recent Aleida Guevara public meeting

THE daughter of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara has spoken out in support of the NHS during a visit to Derby.

Aleida Guevara works as a doctor of children's medicine in the Cuban capital, Havana.

Yesterday she took part in an international workshop on children's health and medicine at Derby City General Hospital.

Following the event, she praised the NHS, describing it as "one of the best healthcare systems in the world."

"It allows everybody to have access.

"It's very important to keep it and not allow it to be privatised," she said.

Dr Guevara addressed an audience of health professionals from across the country at the hospital's medical school.

She spoke about work in Cuba to improve healthcare for young children, which has resulted in a fall in infant mortality rates from 60 in 1,000 in 1959 to 4.7 in 1,000.

Dr Guevara said this had mainly been achieved by immunising children against diseases and educating parents in good hygiene practices.

She said: "Cuba is still a poor country but the number of child deaths is like that of a rich country.

"Now children die of diseases found in the developed world."

Following the talk, she spoke to the Derby Telegraph about the influence of her father.

Che Guevara played a key role in the two-year guerrilla campaign that deposed US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1958. She said: "Initially, my father influenced me because he trained as a doctor.

"Later, I felt his influence in the necessity to give something back to my country in return for all the love they had shown me because I was his daughter.

"I try to gain their love through my work.

"I was born in Cuba, raised in Cuba and I plan to die in Cuba."

Dr Guevara was one of four international speakers who visited the city.

Also from Cuba was Dr Deybis Sanchez Miranda, director of the Children's Hospital in the city of Camaguey, where recent hurricanes have led to problems for people needing healthcare.

Reut Katz, a member of the Israeli Physicians for Human Rights group, spoke about the problems of accessing healthcare in Gaza.

And Dr Hubert Barennes gave a talk on the difficulties of treating children in Laos for epilepsy because of the stigma attached to the condition.

The event was organised by Imti Choonara, professor in child health at Derbyshire Children's Hospital.

He has visited Cuba several times to learn more about its child healthcare.

Prof Choonara is also a member of the Cuba Solidarity Group, which organised Dr Guevara's trip.

He said: "The biggest thing about the day was the contrast between the problems described from Laos and Gaza and those from Cuba."

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