The People Before Profit Healthcare Project (PBPHCP) is a joint program established by the American Medical Student Association's Howard University (HUCM) Chapter; Physicians for Human Rights (HUCM Chapter); and the Pan-African Liberation Organization (PALO). It has also been endorsed and supported by the AME Zion Church Lay Council – Mid-Atlantic II Region. The mission and goals were inspired by the achievements made by the Cuban people in the area of healthcare. Cuba has developed an exemplary national health system, which provides free comprehensive and assessable healthcare to the entire population, despite the economic and political blockade imposed by the United States. They have the lowest infant mortality rate in the Western hemisphere, better than many developed nations. They have also made tremendous strides toward the control and treatment of AIDS.
However, it is Cuba's offer of free medical services, especially to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean that is most impressive. Currently, Cuba has over 3000 health professionals in Africa and Latin America. There are 500 medical personnel in Haiti where Cuban personnel treat 75% of the people. In Pakistan, the Cuban Medical Brigade attended to 1.7 million patients, half of which were women, in the wake of the 2005 deadly earthquake and tsunami. In total, Cuba has medical missions in 68 countries, representing 25,000 Cuban doctors.
On the other hand, the U.S. Healthcare system is in a State of Emergency. 45 million people in the U.S. cannot afford health insurance and 80 million people are underinsured. Disparities in healthcare for the poor and people of color run rampant. “African-American” males are 1.4 times more likely, and “African-American” females are 1.2 times more likely, to die of cancer than their white counterparts. “African-American” and Latina women who get breast cancer are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage of the disease than white women. Only 38 percent of Latina women age 40+ have regular screening mammograms. “African-American” women have consistently higher rates of premature births than do white women and are 1.6 times more likely, and Hispanic/Latino Americans are 1.5 times more likely, to have diabetes than whites of similar age.
Given the healthcare crisis within the African, Latino, Native American and poor white communities in the U.S., we seek the assistance of Cuba's trained medical personnel to help reduce this terrible healthcare crisis. However, because of the U.S. illegal blockade against Cuba, Cuban medical personnel are denied this humanitarian request. In 2005, for example, the U.S. government rejected Cuba's offer to provide 1,600 medical personnel to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Therefore, we seek to bring a part of the Cuban Healthcare system to the U.S. through the PBPHCP. There are several medical and non-medical organizations that have expressed an interest in participating. A full list of those organizations will be provided after each organization officially endorses the project.
The base for the project was Contee AME Zion Church, 903 Division Avenue, NE, Washington, DC, Rev. Samuel L. Whittaker, former Pastor. The key organizer for the church and PBPCHP was Devin L. Walker, former Social/Political Action Chairperson of Mid-Atlantic II Regional Lay Council - AME Zion Church and member of Contee.
The Project was sponsored by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) – Howard University Chapter; Physicians for Human Rights – Howard University Chapter; and the Pan-African Liberation Organization, in conjunction with the AME Zion Church Lay Council – Mid-Atlantic II Region.
We recognize health as having three main components: physical, mental and spiritual. Therefore, this project sought to address all three areas of the community.