Cuba sent on Saturday 39 doctors and nurses to the principality of Andorra, the second European country to which the island brings its reinforcement in the fight against the coronavirus. The export of medical services is a long Cuban tradition which brings money to this socialist country.
“We have great news: doctors and nurses specializing in assisted ventilation from Cuba come to help us”, Andorra’s Minister of Health, Joan Martinez, announced on Saturday. By sending 39 doctors and nurses to Andorra, Cuba is acting at the request of the principality of 70,000 inhabitants, located between two of the European countries most affected by the pandemic – France and Spain – and which has recorded 267 cases including three deaths. “They will fulfill a mission in a place where it is needed, it is a personal and voluntary decision“, assured AFP doctor Jorge Delgado, director of Cuban medical collaboration services.
“It is the first time that our brigade (group of Cuban health professionals sent abroad, editor’s note) goes to a rich country, with cutting-edge technology, so we will adapt to their conditions”, told AFP doctor Vilma Vargas.
Including this new group, Cuba has sent 508 doctors and nurses to other countries over the past ten days to help fight the coronavirus: in Italy and 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Venezuela, Nicaragua and Haiti.
The island recorded 119 cases, including three deaths.
“Cuba has reached out many times, but never so much in such a short time“Cuban Minister of Health José Angel Portal said on Twitter.
Exporting medical services: a long-standing tradition
With revenues of $ 6.3 billion in 2018, the export of medical services, a long-standing tradition in this socialist country, is one of the engines of the Cuban economy, followed by tourism.
But this program of sending doctors abroad – 29,000 in 59 countries – was denounced last year by several countries, the United States and Brazil in mind, for the working conditions of these professionals, including a large part of the salary goes to the Cuban state.
As a result, the island lost its contracts with Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and El Salvador.
“Cuban doctors must be paid directly and fairly“, the American Embassy in Havana repeated on Saturday.