Experts to Share Insight into Cuban Health Care System

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Latin American Campus Association (LACA) at UCSF has invited Marcus Lorenzo Penn, MD, and Melissa Rose Mitchell, MD, to speak about their experiences with the Cuban health care system.

The campus community is invited to their talk, titled “An Introduction to the Cuban Health Care System and the Latin American Medical School in Cuba,” on Thursday, Sept. 17, from noon to 1 p.m. in Health Sciences West, room 301, on the Parnassus campus. The event is co-sponsored by the Office of Student Life. Light refreshments will be provided.

Mitchell, who entered the medical profession as a family practitioner in July 2009, has been active in many humanitarian causes and considers health care a social justice issue. She intends to use what she learned studying medicine within the Cuban system to bring quality health care to US communities that have historically been shut out of the health care system.

Marcus Penn

Penn has visited Cuba twice with MEDICC (Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba), and Mitchell studied at the Latin American College of Medicine. Both Penn and Mitchell came away from their experiences with a greater understanding of how a state-run medical system can promote and provide better public health.

As coordinator of outreach through the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Department of Radiation Oncology, Penn advocates for community and public health and has worked with numerous community-based organizations promoting healthy lifestyle practices. On his visits to Cuba, Penn has observed how that country’s universal free health coverage promotes awareness and understanding of health and wellness.

“Their government cares so much that they want to make sure health care is given to all their inhabitants. They see that health is a right and not a privilege,” Penn said.

In Cuba, the health care system focuses on preventative and primary care and doctors live in the communities they serve. This personal interest in public health promotes a culture of health-consciousness.

“I have observed a strong sense of humanitarianism,” Penn said of Cuban physicians. “They see that the health of their country, and the world, and all they can tend to and care for is important.”

For more information about the LACA event, contact Odilie Orantes, 415/476-3512.

Related Links:

International Health Diplomacy: Examining the Cuban Model
School of Medicine Website, April 23, 2007

UCSF Voices Profile of Marcus Lorenzo Penn
UCSF Diversity Website