Are the Cuban health statistics actually true?

Something that we've pondered here over the years. Those health care statistics which come out of Cuba - are they actually true? An important point we think, for there are any number of people who insist that the Cuban Revolution - with all its slaughter and inducement of poverty - is justified by the fact that it has free health care. That rather requiring, if we accept the basic contention at all, that free healthcare can be pretty good.

As is being pointed out in The New Republic, it's not easy to be certain that it is:

The problem with using statistics to sing the praises of autocracy is that collecting verifiable data inside closed societies is nearly impossible. From Ethiopia to Kazakhstan, the data that “proves” that an authoritarian regime is doing good is often produced by that very same regime.


UNESCO representatives say that in the case of Cuba, they use the regime’s education numbers in compiling their reports. There is no on-the-ground verification for these often-encouraging figures.

One of us did track down where the Cuban health statistics came from. They're compiled by the Cuban health ministry and then passed on to the WHO. Certainly it is possible that they're subject to this special style of authoritarian reporting.

This isn't our area of expertise so we pass this idea along to anyone who wants to run with it. Are the Cuban numbers actually even internally consistent? If we know birth rates, average lifespan and immigration/emigration numbers plus the starting population then we should be able to calculate the population alive at any one point. A question we'd love to know the answer to. Do the reported numbers given by the Cuban health ministry match up with the reported population of the country?

That would seem to be the easiest manner of checking the internal consistency of what is being reported and we'd love to know the answer....