New Health Law foresees euthanasia in Cuba
Cuba’s Minister of Public Health, José Ángel Portal Miranda, presented a draft Public Health Law on Sunday, December 11, which includes among its main novelties the regulation of the right to euthanasia.
The text still remains unknown, but, according to the official Cuban press, the bill proposes to recognize euthanasia as a form of health care and attention that grants people the right to a dignified death.
“This is very revolutionary and we should not deprive our people of that right,” the minister declared.
This would make Cuba one of eight countries that have actively legalized euthanasia, along with Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, Canada, Colombia and New Zealand.
In addition, the final text could include similar models such as assisted suicide, which is allowed in Germany and Switzerland, or passive euthanasia, which is carried out in several countries around the world, including Finland, the United Kingdom, France, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and India.
The draft of the Public Health Law also provides rules, such as limits on free care.
Thus, Cubans residing abroad will have to pay the costs of medical care they require on an occasional basis.
The law guarantees the right to public health care, but only for Cubans, foreigners with fixed residence in the country and foreign residents with humanitarian motives, in contrast to nations such as Spain, which offer a public and universal health care system to all its citizens and immigrants.
Other innovations of the law would include informed consent, which would have to be signed by the patient or his or her legal guardian when the patient is not able to authorize the medical procedures he or she will undergo.
It is also planned to include specific articles for social care, sexual and reproductive health and assisted reproduction.
The legislative document will be released during the first quarter of 2023 and will be discussed with workers in the sector and the population, to be subsequently submitted to the National Assembly.
The debate that the approval of euthanasia in Cuba will generate is foreseeable, since in this Sunday’s commission some questions were already expressed, such as that of a deputy who wondered if it will be applied to minors.
José Luis Toledo, president of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee, pointed out that many details need to be investigated before the law is made official.
Some deputies expressed their desire to see the concrete configuration of rights and guarantees for healthcare workers.
In addition, other related issues were discussed in the parliamentary commission, such as the shortage of medicines.
The Minister of Health pointed out that out of the 627 medicines of the basic list, 40% are imported, while the remaining 60% are produced by the Cuban industry.
Portal Miranda also specified that 347 are for institutional use, and 280 are sold in pharmacies, of which 84 are part of the control card.
Up to the beginning of December, 219 products were in shortage, of which 28 belong to the control card, and another 197 had a coverage of less than one month (30 days).
The Minister commented that despite the efforts made, the situation has not improved in this regard.
The difficulties do not refer exclusively to the shortage of medicines, but also of other resources, such as catheters, transfusion equipment, prostheses, collectors, and parts of the technological diagnostic machinery.
Portal Miranda indicated that a large amount of funding has been earmarked for the pandemic, 53%, which has led to a decrease in resources in other areas.
The Minister of Health announced that an “experiment” will begin in Havana to improve control and transparency in the area of medicines and the care of vulnerable groups.