With its National Health System Collapsed, Cuba Continues to Export Medical Brigades

In the last 17 months, thousands of Cuban professionals, “in 57 brigades, have helped 40 nations to provide a dignified health service,” according to Minister of Health Portal Miranda. (Ariel Ley/Ministry of Health)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 August 2021 — Cuba’s national health system has collapsed throughout the country, but the Cuban government is committed to continuing to send doctors abroad. In the last hours, 23 health workers joined the brigades working in Haiti and Ghana.

The Ministry of Public Health announced this Wednesday that “11 collaborators” from the island, members of the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Specialized Doctors in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics, were sent to “assist the Haitian people.”

Dr. Didier Álvarez Morejón, at the head of the brigade, reported that in response to the “earthquake and the intense rains that Haiti suffered” they were “summoned in a very short time to help this country and also support the work” of the healthcare workers that have been in that nation for a long time.

Four days before this announcement, the Minister of Health himself, José Angel Portal Miranda, assured that the members of the Henry Reeve brigade “are doctors of the world, but they are, above all, doctors from Cuba. Women and men distinguished by his solidarity and love for humanity.” His statements were due to the dispatch of 37 Matanzas healthcare workers to Las Tunas and Artemisa to support the confrontation with covid-19.

Another group of 12 health workers joined the Cuban Medical Brigade in Ghana, as reported on Tuesday by the island’s foreign ministry on its website. The arrival of the collaborators is happening after the renewal of the Health cooperation agreement between the two nations of July 12.

Regarding the renewal of the medical presence in Ghana, details of the payment that Havana receives for assistance were not revealed, as is customary by the regime. The Cuban ambassador in Ghana limited himself to mentioning the support provided by the local authorities to the island’s specialists and exhorted “the new aid workers to keep up the work carried out by their predecessors.”

According to the official press, since 1983 Havana has sent healthcare workers to Accra, “first as an internationalist mission” and then a “cooperation agreement” was established.

On August 19 Portal Miranda said that during the 17 months of the pandemic, thousands of Cuban professionals, “in 57 brigades, have helped 40 nations to provide a dignified health service to their citizens.”

“So far this year, 1,797 of them have returned from countries including Venezuela, Mexico, Panama, Azerbaijan and have joined the battle against covid-19 in provinces including Matanzas, Ciego de Ávila, Guantánamo, Mayabeque, Cienfuegos, territories severely affected by SARS-CoV-2,” the official added.

The minister was referring, for example, to the 200 who arrived at the beginning of August to attend to the desperate situation in Ciego de Ávila caused by the rebound in covid cases. At that time, health sources informed 14ymedio that they were gathering doctors abroad to tell them that, during their vacations, they would have to go to Cuba “because of the collapse of Health” and “to calm the people.”

In recent months, there has been criticism of the fact that thousands of doctors are serving abroad while there are no hands on the island. However, the return of the brigades, the principal source of foreign currency for Cuba, is no on the horizon. “The mission will remain,” say the same sources. “They are not going to stop sending doctors to Venezuela,” as well as to dozens of other countries.


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