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Integrating Health and Human Security into Foreign Policy: Cuba's Surprising Success
Integrating Health and Human Security into Foreign Policy: Cuba's Surprising Success
Jerry Spiegel, Robert Huish
June 1, 2008
Source: The International Journal of Cuban Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1, June 2008

This article provides a case study of how Cuba’s foreign policy initiatives in primary health-care provision has led to a practice that addresses basic needs and enhances capabilities for the marginalized – at root a central concern of human security!

Human security has been thoroughly debated as a concept and discourse that is more sensitive to the needs of disadvantaged populations; however it has been only marginally implemented in the foreign and domestic policies of the countries where its application has been most actively discussed. We feel that it is unfortunate that energy has primarily focused on theorization of the term rather than examination of empirical examples where human security is or could be put into practice. To provide a stark contrast to the much talk but little action on human security, we offer a case study of Cuba’s foreign policy initiatives in primary health-care provision. Cuba sends thousands of health-care professionals to under-serviced regions of the world, and trains physicians from modest and humble backgrounds. The Cuban experience demonstrates how a policy committed to combating structural violence in the developing South leads to a practice that provides basic needs and enhances capabilities for the marginalized – at root a central concern of human security! Cuba has done a great deal to develop such policy, but this has come with internal challenges, political turmoil, and at times questionable outcomes, amid limited recognition.  Nevertheless, Cuba’s 48-year foreign policy of providing assistance and security at the individual level is a fitting example of human security beyond rhetoric for the twenty-first century.

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