José Martí's preventive vision in the current context of Cuban public health

EDUMECENTRO 2022;14:e1753


José Martí's preventive vision in the current context of Cuban public health

Visión preventiva de José Martí en el contexto actual de la salud pública cubana


Teresa de los Ángeles Casanova Rodríguez1
Caridad Casanova Rodríguez2
Georgina María Díaz Serrano1*


1 Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. "Arnaldo Milián Castro" Clinical-Surgical University Hospital. Santa Clara. Villa Clara. Cuba.
2 "Carlos Rafael Rodríguez" University of Cienfuegos. Cienfuegos. Cuba.


* Author for correspondence. Email:



Submitted: 29/10/2020 
Accepted: 22/10/2021



Dear editor:

José Julián Martí y Pérez is the greatest figure of Cuba in the 19th century as a poet, journalist, a complete revolutionary of his time and for all times, and the writer of a vast work full of inspiration and patriotism. However, there is an edge of this great Latin American thinker, not well known by most Cubans, including today's doctors.(1)

He ventured into some aspects of the health sciences. He wrote about hygiene and epidemiology, wisely defined what true medicine is, he examined in depth the problems of poverty and misery of the Latin American peoples, and was a forerunner of the statement of the responsibility of the State regarding the concern and solution of the health-disease problems of the peoples.(2)

Martí's thinking about health prevention, his projection in this field and his vision of the health problems that afflicted the poor are valid words, both for those times, almost 130 years ago, and for today.(1)

He wrote about hygiene in all its manifestations (urban and rural, school work, nutrition and food). He identified poverty and the situation of the environment as conditioning factors for diseases, while indicating the duty of public officials and representative institutions to deal with and give attention to these serious problems that affect the community.(1)

He expressed in 1882: "The true medicine is not the one that cures, but the one that prevents: hygiene is the true medicine".(2) We can apply this idea to the current situation facing the confrontation with COVID-19, a crisis not imagined in the world where no country or sector has been able to escape from it. Facing the pandemic in the health field, one of the most affected in general has required a great organizational effort and resources from which no nation has been exempt.(3)

Marti's ideology is present in the foundation of current Cuban medicine that, since the beginning of the revolutionary government, changed its perspective from curative to preferably preventive. The different health programs planned, organized and controlled in the country are examples of this.(3)

The current Cuban university has the mission of comprehensively training Cuban health professionals and other latitudes to provide excellent services and fulfill health commitments, formed in the fundamental values: dignity, patriotism, humanity, solidarity, responsibility, industriousness, honesty and justice. All of this will make it possible to achieve scientific-technical thinking that allows meeting global health needs.(3)

Health professionals demonstrate every day compliance with Marti's precepts when they carry out internationalist missions and are capable of facing great challenges and dangers to help other human beings in need, an example of this are the brigades of the "Henry Reeve" Contingent, who have worked both in Cuba and abroad. It is important to highlight the three components that define the Cuban health management model for confronting COVID-19: the epidemiological area, the organization of health services, and management from science and innovation.(4)

Regarding the responsibility of the State in solving health problems, Martí represents one of the pioneers in the American continent who related misery and poverty with health and disease.(1) The close union of the doctor and the Nurses with the community and the participation of the masses in solving their health problems will continue to determine positive changes and will make possible to reach new goals in the population's health indicators.

The Cuban people enjoy the protection of the government and its communist party, who have ordered a series of measures, some of which have undoubtedly had a high economic cost, and it cannot be forgotten that in this country, besieged by the most cruel blockade, every life counts, because precisely: "In anticipating there is all the art of saving", (2) as José Martí pointed out. The appearance of COVID-19 did not take the Cuban government by surprise in the task of saving lives because the pertinent measures were adopted.

In summary, when studying Marti's ideology and the materialization of the purest of his thought, it is verified that it is present in every work of the Revolution in the health branch: in every motivation, purpose, objective or action; in the application of the scientific method, in the updating and development in medical teaching and practice; in its extension to other continents casting luck with the poor of the earth as sincere men from where the palm grows; cultivating white roses and fostering dialogic communication and bringing science together with the best medicine: love, which has made possible the recognition of the world of solidarity Cuba; because with the sense of belonging taught by Martí and the continuation impregnated by the heroic and imperishable leader of the Revolution, the concept of homeland has been demonstrated, which is not limited to the Cuban archipelago, but rather, as the apostle said: "Homeland is humanity".(2)



1. Toledo Curbelo GJ. El pensamiento preventivista en José Martí. Rev Cubana Hig Epidemiol [Internet]. 2005 [citado 06/10/2020];43(1):[aprox. 9 p.]. Disponible en:

2. Valdés Galarraga R. Diccionario del pensamiento martiano. 4ed. La Habana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales; 2007.

3. Elizarde Gálvez MG, Plá García A, Friera Bacallao A, Solares Carreño J C, Nieves Sardiñas BN. El pensamiento de José Martí en la salud pública cubana. Rev Med Electron [Internet]. 2016 [citado 06/10/2020];38(3):[aprox. 6 p.]. Disponible en:

4. Portal Miranda JA. Intervención del Dr. José Ángel Portal Miranda, Ministro de Salud Pública, en la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular. [Internet]. Infomed: Consejo Nacional de Sociedades Científicas de la Salud; 2020. Disponible en: -nacional-del-poder-popular/



Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



Authors' contribution:

Conceptualization of the article, preparation and review of the final draft: Teresa de los Ángeles Casanova Rodríguez, Caridad Casanova Rodríguez and Georgina María Díaz Serrano.



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