February 2, 2010Cuban and Cuban-trained Haitian doctors already the largest contingent of medical relief workers in Haiti since the January 12th earth quake are being joined by graduates of Cuba´s Latin American Medical School (ELAM) from a score of countries. Among the first to arrive this week will be several US physicians who studied at ELAM.
Of the 938 health care providers in the teams on the ground thus far, 280 are young Haitian doctors, and at least 60 more are Haitian medical students enrolled at the school. Over the next few weeks, they will receive reinforcements of their peers in a number of Latin American, African and Caribbean countries.
Like the Cubans, they are planning to stay in Haiti to rebuild the public health system: “We´re working to provide comprehensive care over the long term,” said Dr. Carlos Alberto Garcia, one of the teams´ coordinators. He noted that the immediate need for surgeries for fractures and poly traumas has now given way to rehabilitation efforts, treatment of people with diarrhea and respiratory infections, and campaigns to prevent serious disease outbreaks in the aftermath of the quake.
The Henry Reeve Emergency Medical Contingent as the Cuban-led teams are known, named after a US veteran of Cuba´s independence war against Spain is now working in three hospitals, four field hospitals, five Comprehensive Diagnostic Centers (clinics) and numerous open-air sites in Port-au-Prince and throughout Haiti. The latest field hospital was opened January 26 in Croix des Bouquets on the outskirts of the capital.
In addition, the contingent will open its ninth rehabilitation center this week in Port-au-Prince, staffed by nearly 70 Cuban physical therapists and rehab specialists, in addition to the Haitian medical personnel. Another 64 Cuban epidemiologists and nurses are working in teams with the Haitian medical students to provide health education, vector control and vaccinations in some 40 makeshift settlements around Port-au-Prince.
“Post-quake epidemics are a real concern of course,” noted Dr. Garcia, reporting that the teams have thus far vaccinated some 20,000 Haitians and international volunteers with 400,000 tetanus vaccines donated by Cuba and additional vaccines donated by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) against whooping cough, rubella, measles and diphtheria.
The Cuban-led contingent in numbers, through February 1, 2010:
Of those, Haitian ELAM grads 280
Births280 (including 183 C-sections)
Sources: Granma, Juventud Rebelde, AIN, PL, Trabajadores.