‘The Cuban Health System Has Simply Broken,’ Denounces the OCDH

Corridors of the Julio M. Aristegui de Cárdenas hospital, in Matanzas, where beds are piling up due to the increase in covid cases. (Screenshots / collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 28 July 2021 — Although the numbers on the pandemic provided by the Cuban authorities have only grown so far this year, the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH), based in Madrid, suspects that they are just the tip of the iceberg. In a statement released this Tuesday, the organization has requested immediate action from the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization in the face of what it considers a hospital collapse aggravated by the lack of medical supplies.

According to the document, medical sources on the ground warn of this extreme situation. “There is no way to treat patients in Cuba, nor supplies as simple as oxygen. It is hard and sad (…) We are dying little by little. Here in Guantánamo we are falling like flies, without words,” two doctors told the OCDH, which adds a lack of staff, beds, pulse oximeters and basic medications to the list of shortages.

In this context, the organization calculates that the mortality data offered by the Government may be far below reality to the point of accusing hospitals of manipulating death certificates.

“This latest complaint is repeated in all regions of the country. The Government has decided not to mention Covid-19 as a cause in official death documents for hundreds of people. In return, it records that they died of pulmonary thromboembolism or pneumonia,” says Alejandro González Raga, Executive Director of the OCDH.

As an example, the NGO cites the case of Santiago de Cuba, where its sources affirm that a hundred corpses were piled up on the weekend without refrigeration. “They had to look for trucks to take them to the cemeteries, there weren’t even enough coffins. In Santiago they are burying the deceased in mass graves in the Siboney, El Cobre, Juan González and El Cristo cemeteries, due to lack of capacity.”

“None of those deaths are in the official death figures.” The local cemetery, Santa Ifigenia, already had space problems at the beginning of the year and the rise in deaths from covid-19 has aggravated the situation.

Another of the hospitals in which an extreme situation has been detected is that of Ciego de Ávila, “where there are no nurses after eight at night and there is only one doctor covering three Covid wards.”

The organization accuses the island’s authorities of wanting to maintain an image of normality to pretend that the situation is under control, but the reality, they maintain, is very different: “The Cuban health system has simply broken.”

“We call on the government of Cuba to request and accept all international humanitarian aid, and not selectively, as has been happening until now,” they demand.

The complaint comes a day before the authorities have communicated their record number of infections to date. This Wednesday, the Ministry of Public Health has reported 9,323 new cases of Covid-19 and 68 deaths.


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