HAVANA (AFP) - In 2006, Cuba had the lowest infant mortality rate in its history and of all Latin America, putting it in second place behind Canada for the Americas as a whole, according to a health ministry report.
Cuba's infant mortality rate was 5.3 deaths per 1,000 births in 2006, compared to 5.8 per 1,000 in 2005, making it "the leader in Latin America" in the category, said the report quoted in the official newspaper Granma.
"Within the Americas, only Canada had a lower rate than Cuba," said the health ministry, stressing that Cuba "is among the world's 30 nations with the lowest death rate for children between birth and one year of age."
Since 1995, Cuba's infant mortality rate dropped by 43.6 percent, Granma said. In 1960, at the start of Cuban leader Fidel Castro's Communist Revolution, the infant mortality rate stood at 37.3 per 1,000.
The health ministry attributed the current low rate to three new types of medical exams that detect health-threatening genetical abnormalities and advances in pedriatic medicine and prenatal care.
Extrapolating this rate of infant deaths across Latin America would result in the saving of 700,000 lives a year.