Cuba Receives a Donation From Spain as an Area Affected ‘By Natural Disasters and Conflicts’

 The project, financed by Unicef ​​and the Government of Extremadura, was also intended for Haiti and the Palestinian territories

Part of the donation to Cuba from Unicef and Aexcid were 21 incubators / Unicef Spain / Screen capture

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 19 June 2024 — Up to nine neonatal care units have been given to Cuba from a project of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Spain and the Extremadura Agency for International Cooperation (AEXCID). These were also given to Haiti and Palestine (both Gaza and the West Bank).

The three territories, UNICEF said in a press release, are considered “debilitated” after the Covid-19 pandemic and are “areas affected by natural disasters and conflicts.”

The agreement, signed in July 2022 and finalized a few months ago, indicates that the total cost of the operation was 1,259,666 euros. Of these, 9,666 were contributed by UNICEF and the bulk, 1,250,000 euros, by the Junta de Extremadura, on which AEXCID and one of the poorest Autonomous Communities in Spain depends. The Island received one third, that is, 419,889 euros, the same as each of the parties.

UNICEF shared an inventory of what was donated to the provinces of Pinar del Río, Havana; Mayabeque, Ciego de Ávila; Holguín, Granma, and Santiago de Cuba. Among all the hospitals, such as the Abel Santamaría Cuadrado and the Pepe Portilla of Pinar del Río, and the Manuel Fajardo of Havana, 21 incubators, 8 neonatal cardiomonitors, 2 “non-invasive” ventilators and 8 portable monitors of vital signs were distributed, as well as digital scales, thermal blankets, oximeters and antiseptic cloth. This is, the text says, something “critical for the care of the newborn at risk.”

Training workshops were also given to about 5,000 specialists

Training workshops were also given, explains UNICEF Spain, to about 5,000 specialists, on care for newborns in critical condition and nutritional follow-up “during the first thousand days of life, which contributes to raising the quality of health care for pregnant women, girls and boys from the early stages.”

Infant mortality is one of the health measures that has worsened most dramatically in recent years in Cuba, which for decades has boasted of being a medical power. From 2018 to 2021 it grew by no less than 91.77%, from 3.9 children per 1,000 live births to 7.6 dying by twelve months of age, according to official data. Although in 2023 there was a slight improvement, with 74 fewer babies dying than the previous year, the rate at the end of the year remained ominous: 7.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. (For many years, even before the triumph of the Revolution, it remained at a rate of 5 per 1,000).

According to an article published by Escambray, the “stability in infant mortality rates” was precisely one of the reasons to name Sancti Spíritus as the headquarters of the upcoming celebrations for 26 July. The province has a current rate of 3.8 deaths per 1,000 live births, slightly lower than that in 2023, of 4.7 per 1,000.

“Improvisation, which allows surprising results to be composed on the fly, has nothing in common with strategic Cuban Health services, such as neonatal care and other factors that directly affect the infant mortality rate,” says the official newspaper.

The article emphasizes that the “growing adversities” were “aggravated” by Covid-19, precisely the reason for the subsidized action of UNICEF and AEXCID. The pandemic, the organizations say in their joint statement, highlighted “the fragility of health systems in many countries, overwhelmed by a health crisis that was added to existing ones, such as humanitarian or natural disasters.” One of those countries is, officially and internationally, Cuba.

Earlier this month, UNICEF published its report on serious child poverty, in which it included the Island for the first time. The document pointed out that 9% of minors up to five years of age suffer from severe poverty; that is, that they have a maximum of only two of the eight foods considered necessary for a healthy life. In addition, it pointed out that 33% of children suffer from moderate poverty, which means they have between three and four of these eight foods available to them.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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