HAVANA — The prestigious World Health Organization (WHO), which has often praised Cuba’s health system and how well it deals with epidemic and natural catastrophes in other parts of the world, recently disclosed that our isle is home to 605,879 depressed and 675,037 anxious individuals.

That ultraprecise figure causes wonder and surprise. Not one individual more, not one individual less. And one can only question the veracity of the source that provided the figures with the sharp definition of a tailor’s scissors. Did the WHO lift that data from some anonymous contributor to the social networks? That seems to me impossible, inasmuch as the WHO is an agency of the United Nations.

I must confess that — within a radius of 3 miles — I am surrounded by a huge number of anxious and depressed Cubans. Truth be told, I think the WHO’s figures are on the low side.

In today’s Cuba, it is very rare NOT to find an anxious or depressed individual, or someone who displays both clinical symptoms so fully that even his relatives, without being specialists, can give us a daily report on the direction in which the man or woman is staring.

One example: the many mothers whose children have decided to live abroad — in Miami, to be exact. They live moments of euphoria, depression and anxiety according to the news that reach them in the nearest city park with WiFi service.

Other mothers had the same feelings years ago, when their sons left to fight in Africa, an experience that many of them never got over.

Daily life in Cuba is a depressing, anxiety-ridden affair. And let me point out that there’s about 12 million of us — potential patients in a psychologist’s waiting room or (hopefully never) in a psychiatrist’s office.

[Photo by Carlos Ernesto Escalona Martí.]

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