By Isaac Saney, Spokesperson, Canadian Network on Cuba
The Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) is launching the Campaign to Support Cuba’s Contribution to World Fight Against COVID-19 to assist the heroic island’s internationalist medical missions that are combatting the pandemic across the world. At the time of writing, Cuba has more than 800 medical personnel serving humanity in the trenches of 16 countries against the dreaded coronavirus: including Italy (currently with the greatest number of fatalities), Spain, Andorra, in Europe; Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Haiti, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Grenada, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Belize, in the Caribbean; Venezuela and Nicaragua, in Latin America, and Angola in Africa. In the coming days more Cuban medical missions will be dispatched to other countries.
Currently, at least, 45 countries have sought to use Cuba’s Interferon Alfa 2B Recombinant (IFNrec) for confronting the COVID-19 pandemic. The international profile and acknowledgement of IFNrec is steadily growing. For example, there is the March 24 Newsweek article, “Cuba Uses ‘Wonder Drug’ to Fight Coronavirus Around the World Despite U.S. Sanctions,” and, “The World Rediscovers Cuban Medical Internationalism,” in the March 30 issue of Le Monde Diplomatique. The Chinese National Health Commission is using IFNrec as a crucial component of the anti-viral treatment to combat the coronavirus. In the recently published extensive medical handbook by Zhejiang University School of Medicine on how to treat COVID-19 based on China’s experience with the pandemic, IFNrec is identified as a significant part of the treatment. It has been very effective among the most vulnerable patients in China, Cuba, and Italy.
Cuba’s medical missions and other generous assistance to humanity in this time of pandemic reflects the island’s history and dedication over the last six decades of always standing with the peoples of the world in their time of need. During the course of the Cuban Revolution more than 400,000 Cuban health care workers have served in 164 countries. For example, many of the medical personnel now intimately involved in the fight against COVID-19 in the 16 countries mentioned are part of the specially trained Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade against Disasters and Serious Epidemics, which distinguished themselves the fight against the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Cuban internationalist medical missions have often been compared to dreamcatchers. Just as dreamcatchers allow only good dreams to pass through, while preventing nightmares, so too the Cuban medical internationalist missions do their utmost to stop the nightmares of disease from reaching the people.
Cuba is also engaged in its own fight against COVID-19. It is doing this in the face of an unrelenting economic war waged by the United States against the people of Cuba: a war that limits the island’s access to equipment and other necessary items required to preserve the health of Cubans. However, as it has always done, and continues to do, the Cuban government affirms and upholds that health care is a human right and places the well-being of its people at the centre of its policies and political decisions.
The Campaign to Support Cuba’s Contribution to World Fight Against COVID-19 echoes the 2010 CNC Cuba for Haiti Campaign, which was warmly and enthusiastically received by Canadians. As Haitians struggled to recover from the devastating earthquake, more than $200,000 were raised to assist the Cuban medical mission in Haiti. That campaign demonstrated the confidence that the Canadian people have in Cuba, with many people giving contributions simply on the grounds that their money would safely reach its destination and not be squandered in corruption or misused. This shows the respect and admiration of Canadians for the Cuban people and their efforts to build and defend a society centred on independence, justice and human dignity.
For more information on the Campaign to Support Cuba’s Contribution to World Fight Against COVID-19 contact Keith Ellis, Coordinator, Campaign to Support Cuba’s Contribution to World Fight Against COVID-19 at: 905-822-1972 or Isaac Saney, CNC Spokesperson at: 902-449-4967.
To contribute to the Campaign to Support Cuba’s Contribution to World Fight Against COVID-19: cheques should be made out to the “CNC,” with “COVID-19” written in the memo, and then mailed to:
c/o Sharon Skup
56 Riverwood Terrace
Bolton ON L7E 1S4
(March 30, 2020)
The Cuban Ministry of Public Health reported on April 15 there were 48 new confirmed cases with Covid-19, a total amount of 814, while there are 24 deaths.
For your information
A special solidarity webinar to learn about the example Cuba is setting of putting human needs ahead of profits in the fight against COVID-19. Panelists discuss Cuba’s history of medical internationalism; how Cuba is fighting COVID-19 on the Island based on providing health care as a right; learn how Cuba is developing effective new medications such as Interferon Alpha 2-B; and how Cuba is sending medical teams to Italy, the Caribbean and dozens of countries.
For your information: News in brief
U.S. company buys ventilator supplier and cancels shipments to Cuba citing blockade
In another twist of this genocidal, inhumane policy, the manufacturers IMTMedical AG and Acutronic, announced the end of commercial relations with Cuba, after the companies were acquired by the U.S. firm Vyaire Medical Inc.
“Unfortunately, the corporate guideline we have today is to suspend all commercial relations with Medicuba,” both stated, according to the director for Latin America and the Caribbean at Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minrex), Eugenio Martínez Enríquez, on his Twitter account.
The Cuban diplomat also denounced that fact that the blockade prevents Cuba from purchasing medicines from U.S. firms, as recently confirmed by Lázaro Silva, vice president of Medicuba, the entity that imports drugs, equipment and medical supplies for the country’s public health system.
This new blow, promoted by the Trump administration, comes just hours after the director of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called for putting sanctions “in quarantine,” since “thousands of lives are at stake,” alluding to the danger posed by the new coronavirus.
Unfortunately, this it is just another sign of the U.S. government’s contempt for life and hatred of the Cuban people.
Just days ago, the Cuban government denounced the loss of a donation of medical supplies to combat COVID-19, from the Chinese foundation Alibaba, which was not delivered because the U.S. company contracted for the task backed out, at the last minute, citing blockade regulations.
Over the last year, Cuba has suffered damages of 160 million dollars as a result of U.S. sanctions in the field of health, alone, obliged to make purchases from distant countries and thus incurring higher shipping costs.
HOLGUÍN (April 9): “Thank you, Cuba,” Canadian Michael Glafhestea shouted leaving the city’s Fermín Valdés Domínguez Hospital, discharged after beating COVID-19. His voice broke as he turned toward the ambulance taking him to Frank País García International Airport, where a plane was waiting to take him home.
Earlier, while waiting for formalities to be completed, he contacted the press, conveying with a few words in Spanish that he wanted to express his gratitude for the care he had received from the hospital’s staff.
His was the first confirmed case of the new coronavirus in Holguin. Michael was on vacation at the Rio de Oro Hotel, when his symptoms were detected. He was immediately taken to the Fermín Valdés Domínguez Hospital, where a fully-prepared medical team, with necessary medicine and equipment on hand, fought for his life.
Departing for his homeland, he carried with him all medications needed to complete his treatment, in accordance with the protocol for these cases established by the Cuban Medical Association. A group of doctors and staff members bid him farewell with applause. A few days earlier, they had received a patient; now a friend was leaving.
(April 9) On the morning of April 2, forty-three individuals involved in the humanitarian operation March 18, to repatriate passengers stranded on the British cruise ship MS Braemar, were discharged from isolation centers.
Cuba responded to the call for help of 682touristsand 381 crew members aboard the ship, several with COVID-19, which had fallen on deaf ears in several ports in the region, including the United States, in what was another achievement of Cuban medicine and of our public health system, another sign of the solidarity that, despite the risks, has always characterized our country.
Fidel’s socialist Cuba responded as best it can: with respect and love. But that expression of caring for those who need it most is not new; it is present in more than 60 nations, and now in more than a dozen brigades fighting the virulent illness in other countries.
When it was announced that the island would facilitate the repatriation of passengers and crew on the MS Braemar, there were those who questioned the decision, attempting to sully the image of our nation by asserting that Cuba was not caring for its own, a crude lie about a country that protects the health of its entire population in an exemplary fashion, not only in times of COVID-19, allocating a large portion of our state budget to public health. And all internationally established preventative measures were taken to protect Cubans involved in helping those aboard the ship.
Today, drivers, customs officers and all those who exposed themselves to possible infection, in the interest of helping other human beings, are now confirmed free of the virus, after completing the isolation period in quarantine as mandated by Cuba’s COVID-19 Prevention and Control Plan.
The epidemiologist and current head of the Cuban medical brigade in the northern city of Maun told Prensa Latina that this is a tourist area, due to its proximity to major natural reserves and jungles.It is beautiful to see the importance of our work and the role we epidemiologists play in the fight against diseases, she says, because we study their behavior in the populations to contain them.
Although communication both with colleagues and patients is mainly in English, we have also learned the local language, Setswana, and have learned about their culture, which we have incorporated into our daily life, the expert noted.
The Cuban medical brigade in Maun has 12 members, who are experts in pediatrics, internal medicine, ophthalmology, dermatology, otorhinolaryngology, orthopedics, oncology, psychiatry and epidemiology, she added.
She explained that although the Letsholathebe II Memorial Public General Hospital is in the city, it provides medical care to the entire Ngamiland district, which has a estimated population of 102,000.
However, the work is not limited to the Covid-19 pandemic, as they also treat cases of malaria, HIV, tuberculosis and diarrheic diseases, among others.
The Worldwide Health Crisis Demands Solidarity, Not Sanctions!