In December 2012, Associate Director Duane Reynolds was part of 30-person delegation to Cuba sponsored by NAADAC (the Association for Addiction Professionals) and the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. The delegation included mental health and substance abuse professionals from the United States.
The delegation attended a variety of meetings and presentations regarding the latest research and health care issues in Cuba, including the International Public Health Convention CUBA SALUD (Health) 2012. More than 700 delegates from countries around the world were in attendance at the convention. The delegation also attended presentations by Cuban addiction and mental illness research specialists, as well as by staff involved in behavioral health service delivery.
The trip allowed behavioral health professionals from the United States to learn about the Cuban substance abuse and mental health treatment system and how it operates as part of the country’s healthcare system. The focus was on addiction and mental illness research, treatment options and promising practices, professional education, outreach and prevention, and community-based service models.
“Cuba puts a lot of effort into preventative care,” Reynolds said. “I knew nothing about Cuba’s health care system before this trip, so that surprised me. Comprehensive health services, including those for mental health and substance abuse, are delivered through community centers called polyclinics.”
Individuals are referred to polyclinics by their family doctor, where they can receive services from physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, social workers, nurses, and rehabilitation counselors.