Agents of Change: the International Health Division in Cuba, 1935-1942

Jan 01, 2014 | by
  • Description

In 1935, after years of unofficial visits and discussions, the Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Division (IHD) was at last formally invited by the Cuban government to participate in a cooperative project on the island. The IHD anticipated a fruitful endeavor based on their optimistic interpretations of the changes taking place in the Cuban political landscape and in the official sanitation branch: "We believe that a real renaissance in public health work generally is taking place in Cuba, manifested by the real interest shown by public health officials in improving and enlargening [sic] their Services and by the active desire of the public generally for health work." Seven years later, despite the success of its two cooperative projects (of all the IHD's local health units, the one launched in Cuba was deemed "the best in the Americas"), the IHD saw no hope for future effective ventures and transferred their local representative from Cuba to another post in Latin America. On his departure, he commented that working in Cuba was "the hardest job [he] ever had."