Sicko: Best Publicity for Cuba’s Free Health Care

Cannes Film Fest 2007–Michael Moore’s new docu “Sicko” has given Cuba’s free health system its best publicity since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, a Cuban doctor who hosted the filmmaker’s visit said.

Moore took 8 Americans who got sick after volunteering for the 9/11 rescue efforts for free treatment in Cuba in March to extol the Communist state’s care in his film, which attacks the U.S. health system for being driven by profits and leaving millions uninsured.

“SiCKO” has stirred heated debate in the U.S. since opening in June due to its indictment of the U.S. pharmaceutical and medical insurance industries. Moore argues that a poor country like Cuba is doing better job at looking after its citizens’ health.

“Michael Moore spurred more interest in our health system than the 40-odd years we have spent providing health to our people,” Dr. Jaime Davis, who provided free check-ups and treatment to Moore’s group, told Reuters.

During their 10-day visit, the U.S. patients received treatment for respiratory problems caused by inhaling dust in the ruins of the World Trade Center. Some were treated for dental and digestive problems, Davis said.

Stopping at a pharmacy, one member of the group bought a refill for his inhaler at the highly subsidized price of one Cuban peso, equivalent to 5 cents. “Give me a thousand,” Moore joked to the attendant, saying the same medication cost $50 in the United States, Davis said.

Davis, a surgeon now working for the Health Ministry’s international affairs office, said Moore’s group left with “improved health.”