¡Salud! Showcases Cuban Doctors Contributions
by Nick West


About 400 people filled Campbell Hall on Monday night for an Arts and Lectures screening of ¡Salud!, a documentary about the contributions of Cuban doctors to countries with burgeoning health care systems in deep crisis in relation to more developed systems found in other countries.

The screening was followed by a discussion between audience members and stars of the film.

¡Salud! was edited by UCSB alumna Rhonda Collins and the screening was presented by UCSB professor Rich Appelbaum and his wife, a medical leader who founded the local Westside Neighborhood Medical Center and heads up an organization serving as a go-between for United States doctors and Cuba.

The documentary bounces from Venezuela, to Honduras, to South Africa, where each country is shown to have a medical emergency before Cuban doctors arrive to help and attend to patients at a local, community level. The film features Latin music during transitions between countries and chapters.

The overarching tale which runs throughout the film is that of Dr. Luther Castillo, a Honduran who attends the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba in hopes of building a better health system in his home country.

Castillo was in attendance at the screening and afterwards shared his experiences helping in the construction of a hospital in Honduras as well as his aspirations to expand the building with two new wings.

Castillo also explained a conflict detailed in the film between private doctors who rallied against doctors from Cuba. He said the conflict slowed his efforts in setting up health care for all rather than those who could afford it.

¡Salud! provided an interesting look into Cuba often kept from American audiences. It is a Cuba that gives health care to all, and with the upcoming elections, films like ¡Salud! may put the issue of universal health care on the front of voters minds.


  1. Yes, Cuba gives health care to all. But…have you ever visited a Cuban hospital? The paint is chipping, the floors are dirty, the rod iron beds are rusted and there’s no airconditioning in patients rooms. When admitted you must take in your own bedding and if you don’t want to suffocate you best bring a fan from home. Prescriptions are difficult to fill do to the scarcity of medication. I know this first hand, you see, my family sends us the prescriptions, we filled them here and ship them to Cuba at $20.00 per lb. Yes, indeed Cuba gives free health care to all!