May 8 2015
An official farewell ceremony was held today for the Cuban medical team that will be working in Nepal to help the victims of the recent earthquake which has taken over 7000 lives and has left over 16,000 sick or injured.
The ceremony was chaired by Dr. Roberto Morales, Minister of Public Health, the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Public Health, Ana Teresita González and Dr. Marcia Cobas Ruiz, respectively, and Dra. Rule Angulo, director of the Central Unit of Medical Cooperation, and other officials of the union.
The brigade, made up of 48 professionals from different specialties (including 22 medical specialists), will face existing disease and others problems that spring from the normal process following a natural disaster of such magnitude ‘said the head of the brigade, Luis Oliveros Serrano.
Oliveros reiterated the strong commitment of medical professionals some of whom “have many experiences, (while others) others are facing for the first time a situation like this; but the group is very happy and committed to the mission that we will meet.”
Dr. Marcia Cobas Ruiz announced to the Cuban collaborators the current situation in Nepal, home to an outpost of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba studying the groundwork and creating the necessary conditions for the doctors to fulfill their objectives and expectations of the Nepalese people.
The World Health Organization (WHO) urged further medical aid to Nepal
The response by the island’s Health Ministry came after the World Health Organization (WHO) urged further medical aid to Nepal. While many international organizations and governments have donated food, supplies and money, only a small number of governments and groups, including the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, have committed themselves to the vital task of providing much-needed medical aid.
The WHO explained that “many hospitals in 4 of the worst-affected districts are completely destroyed or too badly damaged to function while five other major hospitals, providing important health care in the districts, were found to be functioning but urgently in need of further medical supplies” and urged donators to assist in this regard.
Aissa García, a reporter for the Venezuelan TeleSur in Nepal, said that Dr. Khem Karki, the Nepalese coordinator heading his nation’s Health Ministry Effort for Foreign Medical Teams, announced the creation of the field hospital where the Cuban contingent will be based.
Dr. Karki outlined that while several hospitals are still functioning, many of them have only some working departments due to damage while medical supplies are sorely lacking, creating a major problem as many patients have to be redirected to another hospital because the first cannot help them with their particular problem. This has been most prevalent for pregnant women as the damaged maternity hospital in Kathmandu only has 150 available beds.
The task facing the Cuban medical team
The Cuban teams will be facing a radically different landscape than they are used to but the task of helping people will be the same.
Most recently, throughout late 2014, Cuba sent medical personnel, equipment and medicine to several West African countries, including Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, that were affected by the Ebola virus. Well over 600 Cuban medical workers remained for months in the affected region after an outbreak of the virus claimed the lives of several thousand people. The Cuban aid workers in West Africa formed only a small part of the larger contingent of the island’s medics on the continent, which number more than 4,000 strong in 32 African countries.
A shining achievement of the Cuban revolution
Since Fidel Castro’s 1959 Revolution, groups of professionals from the nation’s healthcare system, seen as one of the shining achievements of the political system instituted by Castro, have volunteered to travel abroad in order to help people through altruism while simultaneously shining a positive light on the reputation of Cuba worldwide.
Cuba’s first mission of this kind began some 14 months into the Revolution when the nation sent hundreds of doctors to Chile to help in the aftermath of the devastating 1960 Valdivia earthquake. This event marked the maiden of a series that would continue for the next five decades that saw Cuba send some 80,000 health care workers to over 100 countries, and this series is ongoing today with the most recent mission headed to Nepal.
Initially, Cuba sent aid teams to fellow Latin American nations but soon, the medical workers volunteered to aid in nations in Africa, Asia, Europe and anywhere in the world where their help was wanted and needed in cases of health epidemics, humanitarian crises, natural disasters, violent conflicts and wars. Furthermore, Cuba has welcomed thousands of people worldwide to the medical centers on its own territory, ranging from victims of land mines to nuclear radiation exposure to people born with debilitating conditions, all at no cost.
The Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM)
The Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Havana is another resource for the global community as some 20,000 students from abroad are able to earn their medical degrees, again at no cost. The ELAM accepts even students from the United States, mostly from low-income and underdeveloped areas, through a religious organization based in New York City so as to circumvent the restrictions placed on travel by the US embargo on Cuba, in place since 1962.
In response to the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina that struck the Gulf of Mexico, but most devastatingly the US States of Louisiana and Mississippi, Cuba offered over 1,500 medical volunteers along with nearly 40 tons of medical supplies and equipment, but their generosity was denied by the then-ruling government of George W. Bush.
The first international group in Haiti
In 2010, the Cuban medical response and rescue team was the first international group on the scene in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake that struck the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The Cuban team established five field hospitals throughout the region affected by the earthquake and sent several other medical brigades to be dispatched throughout the country. Furthermore, several of the medical units comprised of integrated foreigners were led by Cuban doctors and three of the functioning hospitals in Port-au-Prince were under Cuban leadership.
The Cuban presence in Brazil to provide and improve medical access in poor and rural areas
The Cuban presence is likely most felt in Brazil, where, according to President Dilma Rousseff, over 50 million people have benefitted in some way from the nation’s Mais Médicos (More Doctors) program, the goal of which is to provide and improve medical access in poor and rural areas of Brazil through domestic and foreign doctors.
Mais Médicos is present in nearly 4,000 municipalities across the vast South American country and some 14,500 Cuban doctors are practicing their professions in health centers on the poor peripheries of megacities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, in smaller towns and cities in the interior as well as the isolated districts populated by indigenous Brazilians.
Research from the Brazilian government showed sharp increases in voluntary medical visits in the areas where the Cuban doctors were present, and simultaneously, sharp decreases in the same regions were documented in the rates of infant, child and maternal mortality and deaths from hypertension and diabetes just in the early stages of the program. Meanwhile, emergency centers and hospitals were able to provide service to the most severe cases due to a steep fall in hospital visits for preventable medical problems.
- Nepal Solidarity: Cuba send help to earthquake victims la santa mambisa
- Cuba To Send Medical Team To Earthquake-Stricken Nepal inserbia.info