“In spite of being a developing and blockaded nation, Cuba considers cooperation with other peoples of the South a duty and a reason for satisfaction. It is not about giving others what we have to spare, but to modestly share the few resources that we have.”
— Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica, Yuri Gala Lopez
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Cuba’s solidarity with the Haitian people did not start with the January 12 earthquake. Our cooperation with that brotherly country has been ongoing for more than a decade. Since December 1998, Cuba has offered medical assistance to the people of Haiti through the Health Comprehensive Programme. As a result, 6,094 Cubans have given their services to this sector in Haiti, doing more than 14 million consultations and more than 200, 000 surgeries; assisting in more than 100,000 deliveries and saving an important number of human lives.
In 2004, after the passing of Tropical Storm Jeanne through the city of Gonaives, Cuba offered its assistance through a brigade of 64 doctors and 12 tonnes of medication. Five Comprehensive Diagnosis Centres, built by Cuba and Venezuela, were offering their services before the disaster.
From 2004, “Operation Miracle” was started in Haiti. Up to December 31, 2009, a total of 47, 273 Haitians had been operated on. There are 660 Haitian youths currently studying in Cuba, 541 of whom are being trained to become doctors.
Cuba has cooperated with Haiti in sectors such as agriculture, energy, fisheries, communications, health and education. As a result of Cuba’s cooperation in the field of education, 160,030 Haitians have learnt to read and write.
At the time the earthquake shook Haiti, around 400 Cuban personnel were already working in that brotherly country, selflessly and free of charge. Cuban doctors offered their services right after the earthquake.
On January 13, more than 60 health workers reinforced the medical brigade in Port-au-Prince. Among them are specialists from the Henry Reeve Contingent for emergency situations with experience in similar disasters. This medical brigade carried with them medicines, food, serum, plasma bags and other supplies.
Currently, more than 500 Cuban health workers are providing medical assistance in Haiti. Around 249 Haitian interns, residents and fifth-year medical students, who were in Cuba, have joined the Cuban medical team. Cuban doctors are currently working in 23 medical centres. My country has put into operation 15 surgical theatres staffed with 17 surgical teams, and up to January 27, a total of 35,213 patients were treated and 2,750 surgical operations done.
Cuba is willing to cooperate with all nations on the ground (involved in the humanitarian operation) in order to assist the Haitian people and save lives, since we have the personnel and the necessary infrastructure in that country to do so. In fact, Cuba has already been cooperating with some countries from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean to support the Haitian people. We have contacted PAHO requesting logistical support, expendable surgical material, hospital support and other necessary materials to guarantee medical assistance in Haiti.
In spite of being a developing and blockaded nation, Cuba considers cooperation with other peoples of the South a duty and a reason for satisfaction. It is not about giving others what we have to spare, but to modestly share the few resources that we have.
Yuri A Gala López