Cuba continues to work to guarantee safe return of its kidnapped doctors

Source:  La Santa Mambisa

April 14 2020

Immersed in the great task of dealing with Covid-19, Cuba, its government and its president Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, do not forget for a second the two doctors, Assel Herrera and Landy Rodríguez, kidnapped in Kenya

Díaz-Canel, on his Twitter account, wrote that he had called the relatives of both doctors and assured them that, despite the current world situation of the covid-19, “we continue the efforts for their safe return to Cuba” .

The two Cuban health professionals were kidnapped in Kenya by the Al Shabab group, and taken to neighboring Somalia.

During all this time, Cuba has held systematic conversations with the governments of both countries, and its top leaders have assured the authorities of the Island that the collaborators of Medicine are alive, and all efforts are made for their release.

Coinciding with this first year of kidnapping, the spokesman for the Kenyan Executive, Cyril Oguna, assured the EFE agency that

“We work every day to make sure they come home alive.”

Asked if the Kenyan government has received any proof of recent life, Oguna replied: «Yes. We are working with our partners when it comes to sharing intelligence information. We have evidence that they are alive.

From the same day 04/12/19, in an informative note, the MINSAP announced that all channels were established with the Kenyan authorities, to reach a solution regarding the kidnapping of both internationalist doctors.

Two days later, on April 14, Miguel Díaz-Canel stated, on his Twitter account, that “Cuba is working tirelessly for the safe return of Assel (Herrera) and Landy (Rodríguez), our doctors kidnapped in Kenya.

With them and their loved ones we share the certainty that their humanitarian mission will be respected and recognized. We believe in the power of solidarity ».

On June 22 of the same year, on another Twitter, the president reported that he had “telephone conversations with the presidents of Kenya and Somalia, HE. Mr.

Uhru Kenyatta and Abdullahi Mohamed, as part of the permanent monitoring that we do of the actions to obtain the return of our kidnapped doctors Landy Rodríguez and Assel Herrera ».

On December 16 of last year, Cuba conveyed its gratitude to the Government of Kenya for the efforts made by that country to try to achieve the safe return of the doctors to the West Indian nation.

“The Kenyan authorities confirmed that both doctors are well and will continue efforts for their safe return,” said Inés María Chapman, vice president of the Cuban Council of Ministers at a press conference.

On December 30, 2019, Díaz-Canel held talks with the presidents of Kenya and Somalia, in which they exchanged on the current state of bilateral relations and on the efforts for the safe return of doctors to the Homeland.

During a meeting on January 17, 2020, with relatives of the doctor Assel Herrera in Las Tunas, the Cuban President reiterated to them the “full support” of the Government in the midst of the “unfortunately long and complex” process to obtain his return.

Then, on February 8, Díaz-Canel visited in Santa Clara the relatives of the Cuban doctor Landy Rodríguez Hernández, to whom he reaffirmed that Cuba continues to work constantly to guarantee the safe return of his compatriots.

Cuban Doctors Arrive in Angola to Train 1500 Health Technicians

Source:  TeleSUR
April 11 2020

Cuban doctors arrive in Luanda, Angola, April 10, 2020.Cuban doctors arrive in Luanda, Angola, April 10, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Cuban revolution keeps fighting the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide despite U.S. harassment.

Angola’s Health Minister Silvia Lutucuta informed that 1,500 health technicians will be trained by Cuban doctors in matters of family medicine for community epidemiological surveillance.

RELATED: Cuba: Government Implements New Measures to Prevent COVID-19

“The training will take place at Girassol Hospital… because it has excellent simulators for practical classes, which is an indispensable condition,” local outlet SAPO reported.

With that training, “Angolan doctors will visit the families assigned to them, at a rate of 1,000 inhabitants per professional, cohabiting with the Cubans who arrived in Angola for the purpose,” the Inter-ministerial Commission for Pandemic Response spokesperson explained.

On Friday morning, 256 Cuban health workers arrived in Angola to support the fight against COVID-19, which has already infected 19 people in this African country.

The Cuban team members will be distributed to 164 municipalities in order to contain the epidemic from the rural territories with the greatest needs​​​​​​​.

“Cuban doctors will not only stay in referral hospitals.​​​​​​​ They will put their knowledge to the benefit of Angola and Angolans, even in remote areas, especially with confirmed cases,” the Health Minister said.

The Cuban medical team includes 188 physicians and 24 nurses who are part of the Henry Reeve’s brigade of health workers specialized in disaster and epidemic situations.​​​​​​​

On Friday, Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel denounced the increase in Washington’s actions to isolate the country in the current epidemiological context.

“Amid this health situation, attacks are growing to discredit the Revolution. Recently, the U.S. government has launched the slander that Cuba takes part in drug trafficking,” he said.

The Cuban Revolution has sent teams of its respected health workers to at least 15 different countries as part of its strategy of promoting medical diplomacy amid the global crisis.

HeberFERON, a unique Cuban medicine

Source:  Granma

April 9 2020

HeberFERON, a unique Cuban drug to treat skin cancer. Photo: CIGB

Treating skin cancer

The extension of therapeutic coverage to all municipalities across the country, with the opening of more sites, is the key strategy in the application program for HeberFERON; a one-of-a-kind medicine to treat skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma), developed and produced by Cuba’s Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB).

HeberFERONis prescribed for perilesional (intradermal) or intralesional therapies of basal cell carcinoma previously confirmed by a biopsy. The drug can be used as alternative or adjuvant therapy with other treatments (surgical or not), in cases of lesions of any size or clinical subtype and in any high-risk area (area H mask area of face) or locally advanced lesions that are difficult to treat due to local invasion and/or proximity to vital structures such as the eyes and brain.

Extending therapeutic coverage

Dr. Katherine Batista Ochoa, dermatologist in the province of Holguín, told Granma that in order to achieve the goal of extending therapeutic coverage, which began in 2016, a greater number of professionals are being trained with support of the University of Medical Sciences, with maxillofacial surgeons, ophthalmologists and oncologists, as well as dermatologists and a group of specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine (CGM), who are interested in the new therapy and are actively monitoring skin cancer patients.

“Once health personnel are trained, we can facilitate the opening of more clinical sites per municipality. We have 30 clinical sites, in 26 health service areas and four hospitals. This effort allows us to guarantee that at least one institution per municipality will provide HeberFERON therapy,” explained the coordinator of the HeberFERON program in Holguín.

The dermatologist explained that Holguín treated 224 patients in 2019, 80% of whom responded positively. Also contributing to these results were health promotion and prevention activities with the organization of various activities to identify potential patients and disseminate knowledge of the new drug. “I am talking about health fairs, information on local media, and promoting knowledge of HeberFERON among health professionals and the population,” she said. She recalled that a patient, sculptor Argelio Cobiellas, after being treated with HeberFERON, created a website called Movimiento a la Piel de la Esperanza, to provide individuals facing epithelial carcinoma a platform to share information and insights about their experience.

Good results in clinical trials

Dr. Vladimir Sánchez Linares, in the province of Sancti Spíritus, expressed a similar opinion: “We had the experience of being part of HeberFERON clinical trials with good results at Camilo Cienfuegos provincial hospital. Based on that, we developed a strategy to work at the primary level of our health care system and train a greater number of physicians.”

He noted stated that Sancti Spíritus is facing has a high incidence rate of skin tumors, with municipalities where a significant number of basal cell carcinoma cases are reported, such as in Cabaiguán. Most of treated patients are of Spanish descent, with very white skin and a predisposition to the disease. A similar situation exists in Trinidad, a coastal area that includes the cities of Casilda, Yaguajay and Tunas de Zaza, with a large population of workers in agriculture and fishing.

“We are carrying out a targeted survey in these areas. We found people who had undergone surgery previously and with facial scars, as well as other patients who had experienced re-occurrences and several who had refused surgery. On the basis of this survey, we treated 165 individuals in 2019, of whom more than 90 recovered completely, demonstrating the effectiveness of HeberFERON,” Dr. Vladimir Sánchez reported.

The main challenge is to involve more professionals, who see surgery as the first option to treat skin cancer, Dr. Sánchez continued, adding that he believes these colleagues must have their own experiences to develop confidence in the new product, which is effective in regenerating damaged tissue. “For example, a lesion on the ear pinna usually leads to amputation, thus the ear is mutilated, but with the use of HeberFERON we can avoid cutting off pieces of that part of the body,” he said.

Training sessions

Dr. Yisel Piña Rodríguez, an expert dermatologist in Matanzas, reported that, in order to promote the advantages of HeberFERON in her province, training sessions are being held and events organized for professionals and patients to share experiences. She stated that all hospitals in Matanzas have opened clinical sites, while eight polyclinics in the 13 municipalities are also using the therapy, allowing a total of 341 patients to be treated in 2019.

“I think the impulse of the directors has been important, but we doctors who joined the program are the vital link.”

“This is a drug that has revolutionized epithelial tumor treatment, since surgery has always been considered as the main option for treating patients with basal cell carcinoma. Other very expensive pharmacueticals exist around the world that Cuba cannot afford to purchase. HeberFERON is similar to these international products.”

HeberFERON mixes two types of interferons: alpha and gamma, for effective treatment of basal cell carcinomas, a very common and high incidence skin cancer around the world. These tumors arise on the nose, ears, eyelids, facial areas around the eye and on the chest and back neckline.

This cancer evolves rapidly and is detectable when an abnormal formation of a tumoral nature is observed at the basal layer of the epidermis. They are generally seen in areas exposed to the sun or humidity.

Basal cell carcinoma is most commonly seen in older adults who have worked outdoors, in agriculture, fishing or sports training.

Those with a family history of skin cancer and known genetic factors often experience recurrent carcinomas.

Specific skin type more vulnerable; individuals with very fair skin, light eyes and hair are more likely to develop this type of carcinoma.

Patients with dark complexions and under 40 years of age are now being seen, due to the effects of climate change and damage to the ozone layer, which have led to greater exposure to ultraviolet rays for those living in the tropics.

Basal cell carcinoma has a significant impact in Cuba, where some 4,000 cases are reported each year.

What Chinese doctors learned about the prevention and detection of COVID-19 from their experience in Wuhan


Source:  Tony Seed’s Weblog

We are posting an interview with Wang Zhou, MD by Dr. Wang is one of the authors of the Handbook of Prevention and Control of COVID-19, published in China on their experience dealing with COVID-19. The introduction to the interview explains that frontline doctors in China assembled a comprehensive guide of what they observed about […]

via What Chinese doctors learned about the prevention and detection of COVID-19 from their experience in Wuhan — Tony Seed’s Weblog

One in three patients treated by Cubans in Italy discharged

Source;  Cuban News Agency

April 6 2020

One out of three patients cared for by the Cuban medical brigade in Lombardy, Italy, has already been discharged, Granma newspaper reported.

The note states that after 10 days of work, a third of the 36 COVID-19 patients treated by the Cuban collaborators have already recovered and been discharged.
Carlos Perez, head of the group, said that only on the first day of work they received 16 cases from the hospital in the city of Crema – very close to where it is located the campaign facility in which they offer their services–, and until last Saturday, the joint effort of Italian and Cuban doctors had provided 428 services in the different medical specialties.

Of those infected by the new coronavirus, Perez spoke about the transfer of five people to hospital therapies, according to the country’s protocols, and reported the death of only one citizen.

He highlighted “the high degree of morale and willingness” in carrying out the dangerous assistance mission, offered details of the organization of shift work, and conveyed tranquility to the Cuban people, emphasizing the rigorous biosecurity measures they adopt to take care of themselves, in order to “return everyone well home”.

Trump hijacks Barbados coronavirus ventilators, other news


Source:  Dear Kitty. Some Blog.

This 4 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself: Andrew Cuomo thanks China for ventilators as New York prepares for coronavirus peak The New York [governor] has said the Chinese government will facilitate a donation of 1,000 ventilators to arrive into JFK airport on Saturday as the city prepares to hit its coronavirus […]

via Trump hijacks Barbados coronavirus ventilators, other news — Dear Kitty. Some blog

Cuba to Send Doctors & Nurses to More Caribbean Countries

Source:  TeleSUR
March 25 2020

Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica to benefit 

Cuban health workers hold a flag of their country inside an airplane bound for Italy, March, 2020.Cuban health workers hold a flag of their country inside an airplane bound
for Italy, March, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @kandire_bo

The physicians will fight the Covid-19 pandemic in Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, and Argentina. The U.S. government “warns” those countries.

Cuba’s health authorities announced that new brigades of doctors and nurses with experience in handling critical situations are heading to Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica on Wednesday and Thursday.

RELATED: Twitter Censors Official Prensa Latina Account

The first group with 25 health workers left for Belize this morning from the Central Unit for Medical Cooperation in Havana.

We are ready to help save lives

“We are aware that the current situation is difficult, but we are well prepared and ready to help save lives,” said nurse Orlando Borrero, who participated in the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone in Africa and was on two other solidarity missions in Nicaragua.

He also indicated that 33 more health workers will travel to Belize, where there will be 58 Cuban specialists in total on Thursday.​​​​​​

Over the past weeks, Cuba has sent health workers to various countries. On March 22, for instance, 36 Cuban doctors, 15 nurses, and a logistics expert arrived in Lombardia.

In this Italian region, which comprises 11 provinces and a population of more than 11 million, the Covid-19 caused services to collapse due to insufficient hospital capacity.

Previously, on March 20, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced the arrival of 130 Cuban doctors who will help in the fight against the pandemic, which has caused 91 positive cases so far.​​​​​​

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department criticized Cuban solidarity by depicting it as an act motivated by political and economic reasons.

“Cuba offers its international medical missions… only to make up the money it lost… Host countries seeking Cuba’s help for Covid-19 should scrutinize agreements and end labor abuses,” the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Affairs (DRL) tweeted.

Despite these interpretations, 500 Cuban doctors, most of them specialists in emergency and therapy, will arrive in the Buenos Aires province, in Argentina, as reported by local media.​​​​​​​

Cuba: Together we can make it!

Cource:  Cuba Minrex
March 24 2020

Speech delivered by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, at the First Extraordinary Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Health of the Association of Caribbean States on Covid-19 held by Video Conference.

Allow me to mention that it has been thanks to a technical miracle and the support of the Secretariat that Cuba has been able to participate in this video-conference.  It so happens that the website that hosts the platform of the Association, through which all participants are able to connect to this important meeting, has denied access to Cuba for reasons of the blockade imposed by the United States against our country.

Congratulations to Barbados 

First of all I would like to congratulate Barbados in its condition as President of the Council of Ministers; as well as the Secretary-General of the Association of Caribbean States for taking the initiative of convening the First Extraordinary Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Health on COVID-19 for the purpose of exchanging on the urgent efforts called for by humanity in view of the impact of the new coronavirus (SARS CoV 2/Covid-19).

We are here because we are facing a crisis that goes beyond all of us, the consequences of which are sure to be serious and enduring.

Unity of will to to develop joint cooperative actions

The quick spreading of the disease demands that we unite our wills to develop joint cooperative actions that will make it possible to cope with COVID -19, which we all human beings are exposed to.

But our responsibility is still bigger.  Further on, once we have overcome the pandemic, we will still have to confront its devastating and enduring social and economic effects. We are aware that we are currently on the path towards a profound recession or international economic depression and that our countries of the South will suffer severely its impact.

This moment calls for everyone to set aside political differences so we can all focus on dealing with the emergency and its serious consequences in the near future.

Every country can and should make a contribution and pursue every possible effort. The pandemic knows no borders or ideologies.  In order to confront such a serious challenge we should all concert our efforts and support each other.

Most of us are relatively small States, many with scarce natural resources.  We all suffer from the global economic contraction and some have to bear the additional burden of coercive economic measures.

The capacity to complement each other

In the midst of such difficulties, we have the capacity to complement each other. If we act on our own we would hardly achieve anything.  Together we could better withstand the impact, find some relief, protect our respective peoples and engage in the difficult task of recovery.

There are countries with better conditions to confront the pandemic and palliate its economic repercussions. Those which are doing relatively better could support the countries with fewer resources and those facing the most complex epidemiological situation first and afterwards those faced with the most complex economic situation.

The actions that we expect from WHO and PAHO to ensure collective, concerted and effective efforts should be supported by the initiatives that we are all capable of generating.

Sharing respective experiences

It is indispensable to share our respective experiences, intensify communication and identify those practices that have achieved good results somewhere else in the world.

We should not expect –much less be confident- that the rich and industrialized countries will come to save our peoples.  Little assistance will come from the North.  The responsibility of facing the challenge and acting the way our citizens deserve is ours.  The ACS can play a crucial role in that endeavor.

Allow me to share briefly the experience of Cuba.

We have adopted several measures to prevent, confront and control the infection in a context in which there isn’t a local transmission of the virus as yet.  Social cohesion and solidarity have been of the essence.

We have a primary health care infrastructure that ensures epidemiological control.  Our scientific development has specialized in communicable diseases and we have a pharmaceutical industry of a high technological level.

The country has and is implementing a national program to control and confront the infection that prioritizes the health of the people as well as visitors and foreigners residing in Cuba.

Responding to medical assistance requests

Despite this difficult situation, Cuba can modestly offer some cooperation.  After making some efforts we have been responding to the medical assistance requests received from several countries in the region, including five members of the Association, which have asked for medical personnel.

Based on the experience in China with the use of a medicine created by Cuba, we have also received requests for that medication, which we are trying to satisfy to the extent of our possibilities.  We have advanced in the negotiations of an agreement with the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to guarantee a minimum amount of Interferon Alpha 2B vials.

Our Organization can help us socialize our experiences; design an institutional mechanism to bring our respective medical and scientific experts closer together; learn from successful social and local approaches; and identify new forms of cooperation.

We can not underestimate the value of joint efforts.

A virtual technical workshop

Therefore we suggest to the presidency of the Council of Ministers to organize, in coordination with the Secretary-General, a virtual technical workshop in the course of the next few days among our health specialists that will make it possible to establish ways of communication to share experiences and exchange information of interest that may contribute to cope with this pandemic.

Cuba also suggests inviting other countries of the hemisphere, including the United States and Canada, which may be willing to participate in the interest of expanding coordination and exchange.

Likewise, in an interactive way, we could all share a guide or questionnaire that could make it easier for us to identify fundamental data, statistics, concepts and practices that could be enhanced with whatever we have been able to learn from the experience in other countries and regions.

I can offer the participation of our experts to create this instrument.  This is a new initiative that we submit to the consideration of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

Solidarity before inaction and selfishness

We are motivated by the fraternal values that have characterized Cuba, including the principle of sharing what we have, even if it’s scarce.  More than 400 000 Cuban professionals have accomplished missions in 164 countries of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia. The Cuban medical cooperation accumulates more than half a century of experience.

At some point in time we will have to carefully meditate about the way to face the economic, commercial and the consequent social impacts affecting all of our countries. We will be faced with a situation in which tourism will be affected; transportation will be reduced; commercial lines will be depressed; supplies will be uncertain and markets will be distorted.

We can not think that the market will respond to these challenges.  This will require the dedicated efforts of our governments.  If we join our efforts, we will have better possibilities to move forward in less time.

The reality that we all face requires that we put our willingness to take action and our solidarity before inaction and selfishness.  Humanity demands an effective solution.

Together we can make it.

Thank you, very much.

Cuban medical brigade travels to Grenada & Suriname to tackle COVID-19

Source:  Cuban News Agency

March 20 2020

Cuba’s Central Unit of Medical Collaboration reports that their medical professionals working around the world remain free of Covid-19. Photo: Nuria Barbosa

Cuban medical brigade travels to Suriname to tackle COVID-19

A brigade from the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics, staffed by 51 professionals, traveled today to Suriname to combat COVID-19, an infectious disease affecting almost all countries in the world and causing more than 11,000 deaths.

During the departure official ceremony, Dr. Francisco Sanchez, specialist in General Comprehensive Medicine and head of the brigade, read the oath emphasizing they will work to comply with the measures and protocols established for the control and strict epidemiological surveillance of COVID-19.

They will also offer Cuban experiences in the organization and execution of the plan to face the new coronavirus and stop the epidemic.

This brigade will work in a hospital in the Caribbean country where they will share experiences with national specialists in midst of the strategy to prevent and contain the global pandemic.

Cuban nurses from the health brigade Henry Reeve travel to Grenada to tackle COVID-19

The Cuban brigade, composed of five nursing professionals, specialists in intensive care, of the Henry Reeve Contingent, which will depart for Granada to fight the new coronavirus COVID-19, was bid farewell this Friday in Havana.

Marcia Cobas, deputy head of the Health Ministry (MINSAP by its Spanish acronym); Ana Teresita Gonzalez, first deputy minister of the Cuban ministry of foreign trade and foreign investment and Jorge Juan Delgado Bustillo, director of the medical collaboration unit, among others, attended the farewell ceremony.

On behalf of the group, Lic. Laritza Verdecia ratified the commitment with the country and with the public health ministry.

We are leaving with the firm conviction that everything we do to stop the epidemic will ratify what Commander in Chief Fidel Castro reiterated many times, that a better world is possible, and we will demonstrate once again the altruism, humanism and solidarity of Cuban medicine.

For her part, Marcia Cobas emphasized that more than 60 percent of the Cuban collaborators are women and highlighted the praiseworthy example of the Cuban women, who offer solidarity to countries that request it in any circumstance.

You have a crucial mission: to take care of yourselves, to comply with prevention measures and to work intensely together with the rest of the Cuban brigade to achieve the results expected by the people of Grenada and Cuba, she concluded.


Cuban doctors serve in 37 countries with Covid-19

Source:  Cuba Inside the World, Prensa Latina

March 21 2020

Havana, Mar 21 (P L) Cuba is providing medical cooperation today in 37 countries reporting Covid-19, confirmed a high official from the Ministry of Public Health (Minsap).
The Cuban physicians enjoy good health and measures have been taken for prevention and self-care, said Dr. Jorge Juan Delgado Bustillo, director of Minsap Central Unit of Medical Collaboration.So far, no health professional has been reported to be ill with the new coronavirus in our medical teams abroad,’ he told Granma newspaper.

The specialist stated that in all 59 nations are receiving medical assistance from Cuba.

During the last few days, Cuba has sent medical teams to Nicaragua, Venezuela, Surinam and Grenada with the mission of helping fight Covid-19.

This Saturday, 50 Cuban specialist on epidemiology are going to Lombardy, the Italian region most affected by the pandemic.

Cuba, in its usual demonstration of brotherhood and solidarity, is ready to help and to respond to the requests made to us, added the Minsap director.

He recalled that his country has proven this at different times, both when faced with natural disasters and when confronted Ebola in Africa.

There is a national feeling of wanting to cooperate. We receive messages from volunteers willing to go anywhere to help in this world’ s health situation, he said.