By F. Akil Fudail
In 2005 the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro created the Henry Reeve International Medical Bridgade, which consists of thousands of Cuban Medical Professionals trained in disaster medicine and infectious disease containment.
The Henry Reeve Team was formed, in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. At the time, President Castro made an unconditional offer to send the team – comprised of 1,586 medical professionals, including physicians and nurses with extensive experience in disaster response – to the Gulf States. However, the Bush administration rejected the offer, turning away what turned out to be critical support for post-Katrina relief efforts.
Henry Reeve was a 19th century American who volunteered and fought for Cuba’s independence from Spain.
When Ebola hit West Africa six years ago, it was not the former colonial powers France and the UK stepping up to help. It was Cuba, who sent hundreds of medical professionals to West Africa to fight off Ebola, thus saving thousands of lives.
Within a decade of creating the Medical Bridgade, Cuba had provided emergency medical assistance to more than 3.5 million people in 21 countries affected by disasters and epidemics.
In 2015, Cuba became the first country in the world to officially eliminate mother- to child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
By the end of 2016, life expectancy at birth in Cuba was 78.45 years. Cuba has an immunization program that protects against 13 diseases. It produces most of the vaccines used, providing 98 percent of the population with coverage.
In 2017 Cuba was awarded the prestigious Dr. Lee Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health from the World Health Organization.
And keep in mind Cuba is doing all this great medical work for the world while under strict economic sanctions by the U.S.
When COVID-19 was overtaking Italy, once again Cuba stepped up and deployed Doctors and Medical Professionals to one of the world’s hardest hit countries. Cuba also has sent contingents to socialist Venezuela and Nicaragua as well as Jamaica, Suriname and Grenada. Cuba currently has about 37,000 medical workers in 67 countries, most in long-standing missions.
Currently the U.S. medical system is being overwhelmed by COVID-19 and could use additional help, however Cuba is considered an enemy country by our government, thus we would rather hope for the best instead of utilizing medical assistance from a country that is 90 miles away from Florida.
And to make an even stronger case for working with Cuba, Newsweek reported on March 24 the following:
“Cuba has mobilized its medical corps around the world to distribute a new “wonder drug” that officials there say is capable of treating the new coronavirus despite the United States’ strict sanctions that continue to pressure the communist-run island.
The drug, called Interferon Alpha-2B Recombinant (IFNrec), is jointly developed by scientists from Cuba and China, where the coronavirus COVID-19 disease outbreak first emerged late last year. Already active in China since January, the Cuban Medical Brigades began deploying to dozens of nations, providing personnel and products such as its new anti-viral drug to battle the disease that has exceeded 400,000 confirmed cases across the globe. As of Tuesday, over 100,000 people have recovered from the infection and more than 18,000 have died”.
It’s time to explore all options and put global politics aside to save lives in the U.S. and around the world.