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UIC SPH’s Radical Public Health Hosts Event

UIC SPH’s Radical Public Health Hosts Event

UIC SPH Radical Public Health Hosts Event to Discuss Health Reform Banner

Many are aware that Cuba has comparable health outcomes to the United States and outperforms the U.S. in infant mortality rates according to some measures. However, few people know how a developing country that spends a fraction of the U.S.’s per-person costs on healthcare can achieve these outcomes. Radical Public Health (RPH), a group formed last summer in the School of Public Health (SPH) invited Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (EOHS) professor Dr. Peter Orris to speak about the Cuban health care system with Steve Brouwer, a writer and journalist who has been writing about the Cuban-inspired health reforms in Venezuela. Together they brought a wealth of information about the Cuban system and how the Cuban model has been put to work in remote villages in Venezuela.

RPH co-sponsored the lecture with the Global Health Student Interest Group (GHSIG), Emergency USA, Public Health Student Association (PHSA), and the Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban Five. Aprroximately 150 people were in attendance representing these organizations, the UIC student body, and various other community groups and interested individuals. Also in attendance was Rixio Barrios, member of the Venezuelan consulate in Chicago, who answered questions about the Venezuelan health care system and the Cuban role in their reforms. The lecture was followed by a reception where activists networked with students, faculty, and other community members about Latin American and health justice issues.

Steve Brouwer painted an inspiring picture of poor Venezuelans, with help from Cuban doctors, training health professionals in community medicine and administrating free care based on justice and solidarity, not charity. The rural village in which Brouwer lived had a robust local democracy and an expansive public health system based around prevention and community health. Brouwer also described the innovative rural medical schools set up to train villagers out of their homes and communities to become competent doctors, nurses, and health professionals in order to work in the burgeoning public health system set up by the Bolivarian revolution. Finally, Brouwer and Dr. Orris fielded questions from the audience where they reflected on their experiences in Latin American social medicine and commented on its relevance to the unjust and dysfunctional health care system in the US.

RPH continues to host events that bring radical perspectives to UIC SPH learning, research, and practice. The group is currently working on issues of mass incarceration and intends to bring a screening and panel about the film The House I Live In to UIC in the spring 2013. For more information about RPH and our future events, please or visit

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