Now that the Cuban baseball team has visited Baltimore, the city will move into its next exchange with the Communist nation Sunday by sending doctors to Havana.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said yesterday that four area doctors, a city nurse and two hospital administrators will join city Health Commissioner Dr. Peter Beilenson in observing the highly praised Cuban medical system on a three-day trip.
Despite being a poor nation, Cuba provides residents universal access to health care. At the top of the list of issues city officials want to explore is the infant mortality rate, considered a critical measure of poverty. Over the past five years, the Baltimore rate has dropped 30 percent to 11.6 per 100,000 city residents, Beilenson said; in Cuba, it is 7.9 percent.
"For a rather poor country, universal access to health care is very important," Beilenson said. "I think we're very fortunate to be able to go."
The Cuban government is particularly interested in the city's treatment of drug addicts. An estimated one of every eight Baltimore adults is a drug addict, according to the city Health Department. Cuba has seen a rise in drug addiction because of an increase of tourism, Beilenson said.
Baltimore has invited Cuban doctors to visit the city this summer to work and observe American medical practices.
Joining Beilenson on the three-day trip are:
* Dr. Stephen Bartlett, professor of surgery and medicine at the University of Maryland Medical System.
* Dr. George Dover, director of the Department of Pediatrics, Medicine and Oncology at Johns Hopkins Medical System.
* Dr. Javier Nieto, associate professor of the Department of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.
* Dr. Emilo Ramos, associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland Medical System.
* Nelson Sabatini, executive vice president of community hospital integration and regional health care system development at the University of Maryland Medical System.
* Christina Weininger of urgent care at Sinai Hospital.
* Shirley Nathan Pulliam, a registered nurse with the city Health Department.