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“Si tienes un amigo, tienes un central”: A Field Study of the act of informal gift exchanges and social networks between patients and medical staff, in Cuba’s public healthcare system.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores the act of informal reciprocal exchanges and relationships - sometimes referred to as bribes or corruption - within the Cuban healthcare system. The research was conducted in Havana during the autumn of 2018 and was funded by a Minor Field Study scholarship from SIDA. The theoretical framework of Institutionalism is used to answer the research question: For what reasons do patients informally pay for healthcare services, that formally are meant to be free? The study shows through qualitative interview methods, that the perception of informal gift giving varies between the respondents; some consider it to be a way of showing gratitude, while others claim it to be corruption. There was however consensus among the respondents, and also according to previous research, that one’s personal connections within the healthcare system can impact the quality of the services and grant better access to medical resources. The study concludes that gifts can function as a factor creating or strengthening friendships, which may provide better access to healthcare.

Abstract [es]

Esta tesis explora la acción de intercambios y relaciones recíprocas e informales — a veces llamadas soborno, o corrupción — al interior del sistema de salud en Cuba. La investigación fue desarrollada en La Havana durante el otoño de 2018 y fue financiada mediante una beca del programa de Breves Estudios de Campo de la Agencia Sueca de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (Asdi). El estudio hace uso del esquema teórico del institucionalismo para responder a la siguiente pregunta: ¿por qué razón los pacientes están dispuestos a pagar informalmente por servicios de salud supuestamente gratuitos? El estudio muestra, mediante el método de entrevistas, que la percepción del presente informal varía entre los entrevistados; algunos lo consideran una manera de mostrar gratitud, mientras que otros lo consideran una forma de corrupción. Sin embargo, existe consenso entre los entrevistados, y también de acuerdo a investigaciones anteriores, en que el acceso a relaciones personales dentro del sistema de salud puede influenciar la calidad del servicio, y asegurar mejor acceso a recursos médicos. El estudio concluye que los obsequios pueden funcionar como una manera de crear o fortalecer amistades — una función importante en la vida de los cubanos — lo que puede resultar en un mejor acceso al servicio de salud.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 53
Keywords [en]
Cuba, Field Study, Healthcare, Gifts, Institutionalism, Sociolismo
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-384812OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-384812DiVA, id: diva2:1321711
Subject / course
Political Science
Educational program
Bachelor Programme in Social Sciences
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-06-11 Created: 2019-06-09 Last updated: 2019-06-11Bibliographically approved

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