Cuban health specialists arrive in South Africa to support efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
Cuban health specialists arrive in South Africa to support efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

Cuban embassy defends its doctors being deployed in SA after outcry

By Siyavuya Mzantsi Time of article published Apr 30, 2020

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Cape Town – The Cuban medical brigade deployed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa and in other parts of the world did so voluntarily and were not here to enrich themselves, the Cuban embassy has said.

The Cuban doctors arrived in South Africa on Monday to boost the country’s fight against the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of 103 people, with 5 350 infections.

The DA yesterday called on the Department of Health to clarify the cost of the doctors’ deployment, which it said was reported to cost nearly

R440 million.

The South African Medical Association (Sama) also argued that the government should have exhausted local expertise first.

In a statement yesterday, the Cuban embassy said its government’s decision to send the medical brigades to other countries was based on

official requests, without abandoning high-quality care to the Cuban population.

The Cuban government pays the full salary of all the doctors while they are assisting other countries.

The embassy said the host countries assumed the transportation, accommodation, food and basic means for the doctors, the minimum necessary in order to contribute to the sustainability of its health-care services.

“All our health-care professionals are volunteers that decided to help those in need, even at the cost of separating from their families, friends and homes.

“The ones assisting against the Covid-19 have already attended over 5 500 patients in isolation areas, hospitals and red zones jeopardising their own health and lives. They will do the same in South Africa,” said the embassy. 

It said the health-care professionals had been deployed to join in the national efforts of 23 countries against Covid-19, including South Africa. They joined others working in 61 countries as part of the historic medical co-operation programme that Cuba offered.

“It is the humble contribution of a small nation with very limited resources and affected by a brutal economic blockade imposed for 60 years by the US government. In their

obsession to destroy the Cuban Revolution, the Trump Administration and its allies are now also promoting a denigrating campaign against the presence of Cuban doctors in other countries.

“Top US officials devote their time to issue statements threatening governments faced with the drama of the pandemic exercise their sovereignty and decide to request Cuba’s assistance,” the embassy said.

Cape Times

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