On the Road with ¡salud!

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On the Road with ¡SALUD!
Los Angeles, May 16: Actor Danny Glover and Dr Linda Rosenstock, Dean of UCLA’s School of Public Health, welcomed a full house on May 14th at the new Billy Wilder Theater in Los Angeles for the city’s premiere of ¡SALUD! The award-winning feature documentary exploring Cuba’s contribution to global health is distributed by MEDICC (Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba).
In her engaging opening remarks, Dr Rosenstock spoke of the film’s importance and presented the evening’s hosts, who in addition to Glover included Gore Vidal, Oliver Stone, Sarah Pillsbury, Andy Spahn, Stephen Rivers, Marjorie Tabankin, and California Assemblywoman Karen Bass.
“¡SALUD!”, noted Glover, “calls up the power of imagination to change our lives ourselves, and it speaks to what Dr (Martin Luther) King called the need for a new moral imperative, a set of values to guide us.”
Assemblywoman Bass, the film’s Director Connie Field, and Executive Producer Gail Reed joined in a lively post-screening exchange with the audience. Bass, also a MEDICC board member, noted that 15 Californians are among the 90 US medical students now training in Cuba, who have pledged to practice in underserved communities after graduation. “Our job,” she said, “is to help them make good on that promise.”
On to DC, New Orleans, and Atlanta…
Dr Mirta Roses, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), presented ¡SALUD! at PAHO headquarters in Washington, DC on April 26th. According to Dr Roses: “¡SALUD! brings us the story of what one country—a poor one in terms of GDP—has launched in primary health care and the massive training of human resources for health, a program of solidarity and technical cooperation among countries.” She called human resources central to the strategy of strengthening health systems and meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
¡SALUD! Executive Producers Dr Peter Bourne and Gail Reed were joined on a panel after the showing by Dr Fitzhugh Mullan of George Washington University Medical School. Dr Mullan commented that ¡SALUD! “leads us to reflect on whether we have lost track of the heart and soul of medicine.” 
“What is a doctor, after all?” he asked. “A person that gets out there with effective, humanistic health care to people who need it most….and there is so much humanity in what the Cubans are doing, promoting health care abroad as citizens of the world. We can learn from that.”
On April 14th, ¡SALUD! was also shown at the 4th International Human Rights Festival in New Orleans, where the documentary was presented by Dr Cedric Edwards, a native of the city and the first US medical graduate of Havana’s Latin American Medical School (ELAM). Dr Edwards is a resident at the Montefiore Hospital in New York.
A week of April screenings in New York included the New York Havana Film Festival (presented by MEDICC and the Center for Cuban Studies) and a special showing at the UN Film Festival-Stories from the Field.
¡SALUD! screened in the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) film series at The Atlanta Film Festival, where Dr Luther Castillo, an ELAM graduate from Honduras featured in the documentary, was on hand.
Finally, the Chicago premiere of ¡SALUD! at the Art Institute’s theater coincided with the fight by local health care professionals and city residents to save Cook County Hospital, the city’s largest public health facility. The event was sponsored by The Public Square of the Illinois Humanities Council.
©MEDICC, 2007

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