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Children’s Hospital Colorado doctors make historic trip to Cuba

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AURORA, Colo. -- Doctors from Children’s Hospital Colorado made a historic trip to Cuba aiming to improve child health in each country.

It was the first trip of its kind since diplomatic relations have eased, and their findings might surprise you.

“If anyone went down to Cuba and said we have the answers and we are going to give the answers to them I think they left with a very different impression,” said Dr. Stephen Berman. “There’s as much as we can learn from them as they learn from us that can have a positive impact on mothers and children.”

The doctors said they found a health care system that is vastly different than in the U.S. Cuba’s hospital infrastructure is not as good as the U.S., but its system places a stronger emphasis on prevention and primary care.

“The problem is we put a disproportionate amount of money into hospital and end of life care when the payoff would be much greater if we put more of that money into early primary prevention, public health and primary care,” Berman said.

In Cuba, there are 76.6 doctors for every 10,000 people, while the U.S. has 24.5, according to Kaiser Family Foundation.

Berman also said Cuba's their health care system caters better to prenatal care than that in the U.S. Cuba has an infant-mortality rate that is far better than the U.S. -- 4.2 per 1,000 live births compared to 6.

“There are certain areas that the Cubans have great programs in and we can benefit from and likewise we can help them understand how to use modern tech and upgrade their hospitals,” Berman added.

While it’s important to learn from their primary care approach, Berman said it’s important our doctors share their expertise.

“I think there is a lot they can take away related to how we deal with more complex problems, newer technologies, newer medical equipment," Berman said.

Berman is hoping this kind of meeting will become an annual event. They already are planning collaborative projects and to donate medical equipment.

The nine-day trip was sponsored by Children’s Health Colorado, the Cuban Pediatric Society and the Pan American Health Organization.