After the quake struck, Haiti’s first medical aid came from Cuba Among the many donor nations helping Haiti, Cuba and its medical teams have played a major role in treating earthquake victims. Public health experts say the Cubans were the first to set up medical facilities among the debris and to revamp hospitals immediately after the earthquake struck.
“It is striking that there has been virtually no mention in the media of the fact that Cuba had several hundred health personnel on the ground before any other country,” said David Sanders, a professor of public health from Western Cape University in South Africa.
The Cuban team coordinator in Haiti, Dr Carlos Alberto Garcia, says the Cuban doctors, nurses and other health personnel were working non-stop, day and night, with operating rooms open 18 hours a day.
Haiti and Cuba signed a medical cooperation agreement in 1998. Before the earthquake struck, 344 Cuban health professionals were already present in Haiti, providing primary care and obstetrical services as well as operating to restore the sight of Haitians blinded by eye diseases.
More doctors were flown in shortly after the earthquake, as part of the rapid response Henry Reeve Medical Brigade of disaster specialists. The brigade has extensive experience in dealing with the aftermath of earthquakes, having responded to such disasters in China, Indonesia and Pakistan.
Cuban doctors have been organizing medical facilities in three revamped and five field hospitals, five diagnostic centers, with a total of 22 different care posts aided by financial support from Venezuela. The Cuban team has been assisted by 100 specialists from Venezuela, Chile, Spain, Mexico,Colombia and Canada. Havana has also sent 400,000 tetanus vaccines for the wounded.
However, in reporting on the international aid effort, Western media have generally not ranked Cuba high on the list of donor nations. Richard Gott, the Guardian newspaper’s former foreign editor and a Latin America specialist, explains: “Western media are programmed to be indifferent to aid that comes from unexpected places. In the Haitian case, the media have ignored not just the Cuban contribution, but also the efforts made by other Latin American countries.”
Title: Cuba’s Aid Ignored By The Media?
Source: Al Jazeera English
Author: Tom Fawthrop in Havana
Faculty Evaluator: William Du Bois Southwest Minnesota State University