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Mar 26, 2020

Cuban Health Specialists to Assist Belize in Fight Against COVID-19

The world class Cuban health system is contributing across the world in the fight against the novel coronavirus.  Belize and Antigua and Barbuda are the two most recent countries to receive health personnel from the island country.  A second team of Cuban doctors is expected in the country to assist in the containment of the virus. The first group from the Henry Reeve Brigade comprises specialists in disasters and epidemics. They arrived on Wednesday at the Philip Goldson International Airport.  Here is News Five’s Duane Moody with a report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

For the next three months, sixty-two healthcare professionals from Cuba will be living in Belize, supporting our local health system as the country fights the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, a chartered flight with a first cohort touched down at the Philip Goldson International Airport; they disembarked ready to be deployed to respective medical facilities.


Pablo Marin

Pablo Marin, Minister of Health [File: March 25th, 2020]

“We want to have them in Belize City and for the isolation unit at K.H.M.H.; that is where we need it most. Around the country, like I spoke to the ambassador from Cuba, we also have brigades here that are working with us. We already know the listing and which speciality they have and they will be able to be deployed anywhere else in the country that we need. But this is the first group of sixty-two medical officers; thirty-two of them are here and it feels a relief for all of us to be able to count on Cuba.”


According to Head of the Cuban Medical Brigade, Doctor Rogel Luis Ramirez, one of the characteristics of the Cuban Revolution is to help other countries in need of medical support. The principles that we teach our medical doctors and healthcare professionals are humanity and solidarity to others. Like Belize, Doctor Ramirez says that the few confirmed cases in Cuba were imported.


Rogel Luis Ramirez

Dr. Rogel Luis Ramirez, Head of Cuban Medical Brigade [Translation]

“Our country Cuba is in the first phase of facing the pandemic. The positive cases that we have are basically imported; Cuban nationals that were travelling in other countries and so there are few cases in Cuba. We are following the protocol in Cuba to prevent transmission in the country.” 


The medical professionals were then transported to their individual quarters that will be home to them for the next three months in the first instance, such as the Radisson Fort George in Belize City.  That along with a number of donations from Lord Michael Ashcroft, the Taiwanese Government and businesses will assist with the medical response.


Pablo Marin

“I want to give thanks right now publicly to Ashcroft. He has donated ten million dollars right now directly to the Ministry of Health for whatever need that we want. He has also donated the Fort George Hotel for us to be able to host these people free of cost. This is something that the people need to do. This, again I mention, no political. No fighting against us. It is us joining together for the cause of our Belizean people and that is what we are doing.”


This is the twenty-fifth anniversary of diplomatic ties between Cuba and Belize, but medical brigades have been in country since the early 1980’s. C.E.O. Lou Anne Burns of the Foreign Ministry says a token of appreciation was returned to Cuba.


Lou Anne Burns

Lou Anne Burns, C.E.O., Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“There was a very kind group of business people—and we will share the list of their names after—headed by Mister Dinesh Bhojwani, who in a matter of hours secured assistance in the form of donations of sheets and towels and soap and other things to go to Cuba so that it wasn’t one way. So we know that there is an economic blockade in Cuba, we know that it is difficult, so it would not have been right for Belize to ask for equipment, but what they offer is expertise, what they offer is human capacity. And we offered what we could in terms of whatever we could put on that plane to fill it to show as an act of goodwill—and my thanks to those business people who acted so fast—and said to me when I said we really need to recognise, they said you know it is our duty. We have to do this in solidarity because they people are helping us. And never forget that they’ve left their families, their young ones at a time where everything is uncertain.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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