Ene 16, 2020

 Trevor G Brown

Against a backdrop of a re-election campaign for a second-term as US president and a desperate attempt to appease the anti-communist Florida republican cabal led by Marco Rubio, who were instrumental in securing his election victory in 2016, the administration of Donald Trump is outdoing itself in trying to sully the reputation of one of the main pillars of the Cuban revolution, which is its internationalism and particularly as it relates to health care.

I would also strongly recommend to the leadership of the USA, that ‘charity begins at home’ where an estimated 50 million (fifty million) of its 300 million plus population, are living without health insurance and to make matters worse, in the words of USA film maker Michael Moore in his award winning documentary ‘Sicko’, 18,000 will die each year from the lack of medical insurance.

On the other hand, ask any of our fellow country men or women, who have had the first-hand experience of being in treated or in the care of these collaborators from the homeland of Marti, Maceo, Fidel, Raul and Diaz Canel and listen to their responses. Jamaica, like some many of our neighbours  occupying the global south where the plundering of our natural resources to line the pockets of the greedy oligarchs in the empire, while leaving the people ‘to suck salt through a wooden spoon’, can attest to the life-changing experience of  interacting with our Cuban  collaborators.

The sheer numbers of the work of Cuban Health Brigade during the eleven-month period January to the end of November 2019 is one such indicator,

Lives saved: 1610

Cases seen in consultation: 195,919

Surgeries performed inclusive of Operation Miracle (Eye Care): 6,560

Cases seen on the ground: 905

Health Fairs: 23

Our country’s overall involvement with our sister nation since the advent of the first group of 14 doctors, who were stationed at the Savannalamar Hospital in Westmoreland during 1976, tells the true story of the debt of gratitude that we owe these heroic people. We should also note that our relationship with Cuba was ruptured for a period of nine years, during the ‘cold war’ (1980-1989) when the late Prime Minister Edward Seaga was head of a JLP-led administration.

Currently, the Cuban medical brigade in Jamaica consists of 242 professionals divided among 18 in the Operation Miracle (Eye Care) programme, 222 in other medical specialities, an economist and a driver. Taken together with the hundreds of medical professionals that have preceded this cohort in the 34 years since the collaboration began, a total of 21, 414 patients have been operated on in Jamaica since a full-time operation Miracle Brigade was established in 2010, treating Cataracts, Pterigium and Retinal Laser.

While prior to this period when Jamaicans flew to Cuba for treatment in the 6-year period between 2005-2010, of the 53,636 patients that were seen by the medical personnel of which 5,906 were sent to Cuba for treatment, 4,698 of that number recovered their vision.

Our sister nations of Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia where this sinister and calumnious campaign against Cuba is being supported by the current US apparatchik administrations of Bolsanaro, Moreno and the coup-imposed Jeanine Anez, have even more impressive figures than ours, to underline the enviable conduct of the Cuban collaborators during the administration of their predecessors, Lula, Rouseff, Correa and Morales respectively.

In Brazil for example, under a tripartite agreement with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) between August 2013-2018, the Cuban collaborators treated more than 113, 559,000 patients in more than 3,600 municipalities across the country and provided overall coverage for 60,000,000 (sixty million) Brazilians. Coupled with this is the fact that 1,214 young Brazilians graduated from Cuban medical schools.

Ecuador was not much different, as since the beginning of the collaboration programme with Cuba, 3565 health professionals conducted 6,749,666 consultations among the population, with a total of 212, 360 surgeries done, 3,548 assisted births and 100,084 vaccinations affected. In the area of eye care, the 153 collaborators performed 168,543 surgery. Additionally, as a result of Manuel Espejo Solidarity Mission 825,576 patients were treated of which 35,257 were in the area of specialized neurophysiology and otorhinolaryngology consultations, while 21,062 patients underwent clinical genetic studies.

Importantly also, was the fact that 2093 young Ecuadorians graduated as medical doctors from Cuban universities.

The Cuban contingent in Bolivia was made up 406 medical doctors in 32 specialities of which 54 % were women, provided 73,330,447 consultations and conducted 1,529, 301 surgeries. A total of 60,640 pregnant mothers were assisted in child birth and 22,221 vaccinations were administered.  Additionally, regarding matters related to eye care 508,403 surgeries were done.

5,184 young Bolivians realised their dreams of becoming doctors, as they graduated from Cuban universities during the period under review.

What therefore is the reason for the USA in trying to smear the dignity, professionalism and altruism of the collaborators and Cuba, which stands as a beacon of hope for those of us who struggle for a better world and demonstrate in very practical ways, the biblical tenets of being your brother’s keeper.

Even more mind boggling, is the support by these new administrations that have assumed power ostensibly on behalf of the people in these states notably, Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia, for the disgraceful act of colluding with the USA to get rid of the Cuban health professionals, who have brought medical care to their people which has transformed their lives, that hitherto could not be afforded by the majority of them.

No amount of misinformation and disinformation by the USA, together with its mercenary alliances, can overcome the lived experience and interaction with our 400,000 Cuban brothers and sisters collaborators, forged in the crucible of 56 years of ‘living in the trenches’, in 164 countries providing succour to the most needy.

Some of the more notable contributions include the fight against Ebola in Africa, against blindness in the Caribbean and Latin America and Cholera in Haiti, in 26 brigades from the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specialised in Disasters and major Epidemics in Pakistan, Indonesia, Ecuador, Mexico Chile, Peru, and Venezuela among others.

Equally important also, is the training of 35,613 health professionals from 138 countries free of charge.

The response of the Cuban Foreign ministry to this despicable act by the US administration is firm and is worthy of repetition, “Access to health care is a human right, the campaign against our medical cooperation is a disgraceful and criminal act against peoples in need of medical assistance, which cannot overshadow the solidarity and human contribution of the 29,000 Cuban health care professionals who with enormous sacrifice and understanding on the part of their families currently provide service to 65 nations. We will continue to save lives, to seek health and well-being for the world within the limit of our possibilities wherever we are requested”.