Cuba is a beautiful country filled with nice people. Many of those people are educated doctors who go around the world saving lives for free, and they do the same at home. Al Jazeera has a nice long piece looking into the quality and motivations behind these great Cuban doctors. Spoiler: it’s not about money, it’s about helping people.
Cuba has sent about 185,000 health workers to more than 100 countries since the 1960s. Medical staff have been deployed to some of the world’s worst natural disasters, such as the catastrophic 2004 tsunami in Asia and the deadly earthquake in Pakistan in 2005.
Last year as Ebola ravaged West Africa, Cuba sent hundreds of doctors and nursesto hot zones in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea – more than any other country.
“They are always the first to arrive and the last to leave,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said of Cuban medical deployments. “They remain in place after the crises. Cuba can be proud of its healthcare system, a model for many countries.”
A new report written by a handful of doctors titled Improving Health Care by Design concludes that in order to have a healthy populace we need cities designed for health. There is nothing startling in the report but it does provide one more reference and tool for people to use inspire positive change in their own communities.
The results: if we want healthy people, we need to build healthy communities. This means, the doctors suggest, that our communities need to made more conducive to walking, cycling, and public transit. The report concludes with calls for “major changes” in community design across the GTHA.
These are not perhaps particularly novel observations, few would argue that more opportunities for physical activity leads to better overall health. But the report, written as it was by doctors, adds leverage to these ideas by attempting to quantify more specifically, the health effects of good community planning.
Doctor Robert Zarr prescribes walking in parks to his patients. Regular readers already know that the exposure to nature is beneficial in multiple ways for our physical and mental health. Doctors have also taken note of this and realize that prescribing walks and exposure to nature can reduce obesity rates while also being proactive in stemming other health problems.
Zarr doesn’t think prescribing parks is a radical step, though it may require a little getting used to. “Once you get over the conceptual hurdle of prescribing park, and you believe the scientific literature that clearly says being outside is good for health, then all it takes is to push a button on a computer. They have to do that anyway,” he says.
Zarr now hopes to develop a mobile app, and perhaps get the “have you been outside recently?” question included in patients’ pre-interviews alongside other vital signs queries.
Read more here.