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Cuban Healthcare Delivers, Experts Say

Hospitals in Cuba are often shabby and badly-lit, and lack equipment and medicines. But the health system built by President Fidel Castro's government has produced results on a par with rich nations using the resources of a developing country.

Experts say that is because Cuba focused on prevention and because its universal free health care allows Cubans to see a doctor quickly and treat illness before it needs costly procedures.

To make his point, Moore goes to Communist Cuba with a group of Americans who suffer from health problems derived from working as volunteers in the ruins of New York's World Trade Center after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The film, which is due to open in U.S. theaters on June 29, makes the point that the treatment they lack in the United States is available for free in Cuba.

On key statistics measured by the World Health Organization, Cuba is in line with the United States.

The average life expectancy of a child born in Cuba is 77.2 years, compared with 77.9 years in the United States, according to the WHO.

The number of children dying before their fifth birthday is seven per 1,000 live births in Cuba and eight per 1,000 in the United States.

Yet the United States spends more than 26 times as much on health, $6,096 per person a year, compared with only $229 in Cuba, the WHO figures show.

While Cuba has 73,000 doctors, twice as many doctors per capita as the United States, in recent years it has sent as many as 15,000 to work in the slums of Venezuela, its main political ally, in exchange for vital oil supplies.

The export of medical services has hurt Cuba's family doctor system and caused longer waits at health centers.

At the Havana clinic where Moore's American patients received free check-ups in March for respiratory problems and bone fractures suffered at Ground Zero, Ivonne Torres reads a Buddhist text as she waits for
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