WITH the recent arrival in Haiti’s
capital, Port-au-Prince, of a group of 75 Cuban
volunteer health workers, Cuba has more than
fulfilled its commitment to send additional health
personnel to confront the serious cholera epidemic
which this neighboring Caribbean nation is suffering.
Villafranca explains aspects of the
mission to recently arrived health
More than 114,000 Haitians, almost
all of them from the poorest social sectors of the
country, have been infected with this disease.
With this new group, the Cuban
government almost immediately met its commitment to
the Haitian authorities, announced by Comandante en
Jefe Fidel Castro, in his November 27 "Haiti
Reflection: underdevelopment and genocide," to
reinforce the Cuban Medical Brigade (BMC) with 300
new doctors, nurses, and health technicians.
The BMC now numbers 1,235 members:
501 physicians, 404 nurses, 244 technicians and 86
support staff. This whole solidarity contingent is
linked in one way or another to battling Haiti’s
cholera epidemic, which is continuing to spread
throughout this nation, particularly in areas with
extremely poor sanitary and environmental conditions.
In a statement to Granma,
Lorenzo Somarriba López, Cuban deputy minister of
health and general coordinator of the BMC, explained
that the recent arrivals are to be assigned to
complete the staffing of 14 cholera treatment
centers provided by the BMC, located throughout
Haiti’s rugged terrain.
Dr. Somarriba added that this
reinforcement will make it possible to fully staff
40 active research groups (GPA) initially
anticipated to move, with their backpacks, to 207
rural and mountainous sub-communes of difficult
access and lacking adequate medical services, where
cholera is creating creates unforeseen ravages and
bringing mourning and fear to Haitian families.
In a few days the 32 organized GPA’s
have made a study of more than 106,000 people in
those remote rural areas and have treated 657
Haitians, who would have died from the disease if
they had not received timely medical help.
Moreover, these small mobile groups
of no more than five brigade members, including a
Haitian doctor graduated from Havana’s Latin
American School of Medicine, are undertaking
important preventive-educational work among the
local people, and distributing oral rehydration
salts and chlorine to make water safe for human
consumption. The Cuban volunteers are also working
in the 40 cholera treatment units.
Without any doubt, the
congratulations transmitted by Esteban Lazo, member
of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party, came
as an added stimulus to the labors of the BMC, whose
members have saved the lives of more than 41,000
Haitians suffering from cholera, maintaining a low
death rate which has remained at 0.75%.
That spirit of solidarity of the
Cuban health volunteers was present in the words
Arelys Nápoles Medina, a recently arrived nurse from
Holguín, who reiterated the disposition of this
troop of Fidel to be the last to leave and to never
surrender to an epidemic which is striking at the
heart of this nation. Cuba is meeting its commitment
and Haiti is responding.