Definitions of health and identity in the training of the Cuban professional in medical sciences

EDUMECENTRO 2022;14:e2288



Definitions of health and identity in the training of the Cuban professional in medical sciences

Definiciones de salud e identidad en la formación del profesional cubano de las ciencias médicas


Teresa de los Ángeles Casanova Rodríguez1
Georgina María Díaz Serrano2
Caridad Casanova Rodríguez3


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


* Author for correspondence. Email:



Submitted: 12/01/2022
Accepted: 19/01/2022



The world has faced epidemiological crises on multiple occasions; The mistakes made regarding climate change have spread very quickly throughout the international system and have exposed humanity to great dangers. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the beginning of a flu pandemic in 2009 which was moderate in severity in some rich countries, but with devastating effects in the rest of the world. At the beginning of 2020, a devastating drama began due to the spread and development of COVID-19, also categorized as a pandemic and causing irreparable damage.

From the humanist point of view, Cuban health workers have been an example for their outstanding participation in the confrontation of disasters and health emergencies, which allowed increasing survival in many countries and demonstrating their professionalism and moral values that this noble labor implies.

In the training of medical science students, two fundamental definitions are emphasized: identity and health.

The word identity comes from the Latin ident-tas and this from the entry idem which means "the same". When talking about identity, reference is made to those traits, attributes or characteristics of a person, subject or group, which manage to differentiate them from others. It is also that appreciation or perception that each individual has about itself in comparison with others, which can include the perception of an entire group. (1)

The meaning of the word identity is dual: on the one hand, the characteristics that make one perceive that a person is unique (different from others); on the other hand, it refers to the peculiarities that people possess that make us perceive that they are the same (without differences) among other groups of people. These traits can be hereditary or innate, but certain peculiarities of each individual can exert influences or be exercised by the environment that surrounds them as a consequence of lived experiences. Achieving one's own identity can be considered a requirement for optimal psychological adjustment. (1)

"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not only the absence of diseases or illnesses." The quote comes from the Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization, which was adopted by the International Sanitary Conference, held in New York from June 19 to July 22, 1946, signed on July 22, 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, No. 2, p. 100), and started to be applied on April 7, 1948. This definition has not been modified since 1948.(2) The term health comes from the Latin salus , salûtis, which means "salvation" but also "greeting". Hence, the verb to greet implies wishing the other health.(3)

The definitions of the words health and identity evolve; in each country or nation they have their own roots, traits, traditions, beliefs, sets of values and modes of behavior that merge.(1)

At present, contemporary Cuban medicine is more scientific, more objective; relates the symptoms and signs of a disease as essential elements for a good diagnosis; measure, quantify. We work in research centers with study protocols and equipment in which biotechnology has been an essential factor in the creation of vaccines to eradicate many diseases, especially in childhood, as well as alleviate chronic diseases.

This awakens feelings of wonder and fear. Of amazement at the exquisiteness of having the ability to arrive at the ultimate explanation of diseases and at the development of their diagnostic and therapeutic techniques; fear of obligations from the ethical point of view due to the ability to intervene in the beginning and end of life, and experiences in the doctor-patient relationship; but at the same time, the feeling is wonderful at the possibility of treatment and improvement of so many diseases that were considered incurable.(4,5)

The universities of medical sciences oblige us to revere the objective, technical aspects, without underestimating the subjective in their training programs; a dialogue is established where brilliant solutions are proposed from the scientific point of view, but supported by the humanism that must surround medical acts as a distinctive quality of the Cuban health professional. The concern for the recovery of a good clinical relationship, is becoming stronger in teaching and in the practice of medicine; to regain vision in this field is to re-give man his sense of being unique.

The doctor-patient relationship is social, that is, the friendship that develops with the patient, the concern produced by the presence of the other as a comprehensive being, both understood as a form of reciprocated love; This relationship is magnificent and rewarding for the patient, full of faith, trust, with his hope placed in the knowledge and wisdom of the doctor.(5)

The essence of humanism is love for the fellow man, the raison d'être of the medical act throughout the ages. In Cuban medicine, as a profession, you work as a team; decisions are made based on clinical diagnostic elements and laboratory results.(6) This action demands integrity and honesty, and a good doctor-patient relationship.

Some health professionals from other latitudes, eager for economic and professional recognition and divorced from human sensitivity have lost the humanistic concept identified with the Hippocratic model for millennia, supported for medical posterity by the most qualified cultivators of ecumenical thought, such as Hippocrates, Aristotle, Plato or Gracián, they contributed the essential concepts that define human spirituality,(7) also valid in the training of Cuban health professionals.



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2. Organización Mundial de la Salud. Constitución de la Organización Mundial de la Salud. 45. [Internet]. Ginebra: OMS; 2006. Disponible en:

3. Organización Mundial de la Salud. Salud y Derechos Humanos. [Internet]. Ginebra: OMS; 2016. Disponible en:

4. Colomba Norero V. Humanismo y Medicina. La proyección humanista en la enseñanza de la Medicina chilena del siglo XXI. Rev Chil Pediatr [Internet]. 2003 [citado 10/08/2020];74(3):[aprox. 3 p.]. Disponible en:

5. Amaro Cano MC. Una aproximación a los valores éticos consensuados por la sociedad cubana. Educ Med Super [Internet]. 2014 [citado 10/08/2020];28(1):[aprox. 14 p.]. Disponible en:

6. Nizama-Valladolid M. Humanismo médico. Rev Soc Peru Med Interna [Internet]. 2002 [citado 09/09/2020];15(1):[aprox. 7 p.]. Disponible en:

7. Bustamante Alfonso LM. La educación en valores en trabajadores de la atención primaria de salud en Cuba. Rev Cubana Med Gen Integr [Internet]. 2010 [citado 04/09/2020];26(1):[aprox. 9 p.]. Disponible en:



Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



Authors' contribution

Teresa de los Ángeles Casanova Rodríguez: participated in the conceptualization, methodology and preparation of the manuscript.
Georgina María Díaz Serrano and Caridad Casanova Rodríguez: participated in the review of the manuscript, editing and approval of the final version of the article.

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