14ymedio, Miguel García, Holguín, February 10, 2024 — “I don’t know what’s worse, the plague or the lack of attention,” says Clara, a few feet from Office 24 of the Pedro del Toro Saad health clinic in the city of Holguín. On the outskirts of the premises, located on the road to the Mirador de Mayabe, a fetid liquid springs up from the sewer pipes and accumulates at the entrance. The spillage began last December, less than six months after the property was subjected to a “capital repair.”
“Just when we were under the illusion of being able to have higher quality care, we began noticing how the entrance was filled with sewage,” explains Clara, a diabetic with high blood pressure who lives nearby. “The doctor and nurse immediately reported the problem, but there’s no way they can work there because it’s a health hazard. Between the bad smells and the feces floating at the entrance, maintaining hygiene is impossible.”
The Hilda Torres neighborhood clinic serves 1,032 patients in the area, including two pregnant women. After closing the premises, the health authorities referred the patients to Office 25, which is some 650 feet away, but the congestion in the consultation rooms and the excessive number of patients are detriments to the care that they can receive. “It’s not worth going there; it can’t cope with all the patients. You spend hours for nothing and have to go back home.”
A week ago, after many criticisms and complaints, a vehicle specialized in evacuating the contents of the septic tank arrived at Office 24. “It should have come several times because of the large volume of waste, but it only came once because there is no fuel,” complains another resident. “Everyone knows this; we have repeatedly called the Polyclinic, Hygiene and Epidemiology, and nothing happens.”
The Hilda Torres neighborhood clinic serves 1,032 patients in the area, including two pregnant women
With an aging population, the Hilda Torres neighborhood also has a rough topography. “People who are in a wheelchair, the elderly with walkers and all of us who suffer from a locomotion problem find it very difficult to get to the other office because there is a steep hill,” adds the neighbor. “But once you arrive, you have to arm yourself with patience because it is always full of people. I calculate that in total there are more than 2,000 people who are now served there.”
The Family Doctor program in Cuba, which was originally designed for each office to provide care to between 600 and 700 patients, has been deteriorating with the exodus of professionals, the departure of others on official missions abroad and infrastructure problems. What was one of the health pillars of the Island is going through difficult times due to lack of investments and the loss of qualified personnel.
On the road to the Mirador de Mayabe, the panorama could not be more emblematic of what is happening along the entire Island: a closed office, the sewer waters covering part of its entrance and the logo of a rod with a coiled snake still hanging on the facade of the installation. The reptile seems to be lying in wait for the moment when the waste extraction vehicle comes back and patients can return to the benches, stretchers and blood pressure monitors.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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