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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Cuban doctors, medics return home after helping Qatar with Covid-19 battle

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The Cuban hospital in Qatar has served as one of the designated health facilities to treat patients since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak last year.

Cuban doctors sent to Qatar in 2020 on a mission to help battle the coronavirus pandemic have packed their bags and returned home more than a year since joining Qatar’s frontline workers.

“The Henry Reeve Brigade returns to Cuba after helping to face COVID19 in Qatar. It goes home with outstanding outcomes, in addition to those achieved so far by the well-known Cuban Hospital in Dukhan,” said the Cuban embassy in Qatar.

The coronavirus outbreak created a global state of panic, with doctors trying to provide treatment to a disease that was newly-discovered at the time. While effective vaccines have now been rolled out worldwide, researchers are still trying to understand the origins of the virus until this day.

Cuba immediately sent some of its medical professionals to some 20 countries, among which was Qatar, which received doctors and nurses to help bolster its frontline.

At the beginning of the outbreak in March last year, Cuba had sent at least 1,500 medical professionals across the world, joining 30,000 Cuban and others that were already deployed in other countries.

Qatar had already established the Cuban Hospital in Dukhan in 2012 as a cooperation between the Qatari and Cuban governments. More than 400 Cuban medical professionals including doctors, nursers and technicians have been working at the hospital since.

However, the hospital was transformed into a Covid-19 facility last year, with plans to resume it regular operations by next year.

History of Cuba’s healthcare

Cuba is known for its top healthcare and skilled doctors, with a ratio of 8.2 physicians per 1,000 people. The Latin American country makes around $11 billion each year from sending off some of its doctors to foreign governments.
Its history in medical professionalism dates after the 1959 revolution which saw the establishment of a Communist regime after leader Fidel Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista.
Doctors were used to break Cuba’s political isolation throughout the Cold war years. Cuba sent its first medical mission abroad to Algeria in 1963 following its independence from France in 1962.
Over the past 60 years, Cuba has deployed over 400,000 health workers to some 164 countries.
Cuban doctors also played a significant role during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti where 250,000 people were killed, and helped treat tens of thousands of people infected with cholera.
The Latin American medics were also on the front line of the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa, sending up to 460 to help fight the virus.
However, right groups have expressed their concerns over the treatment of Cuban doctors on medical missions, saying the Cuban government imposes rules on the medics that violate their right to privacy, freedom of expression and association, liberty, and movement, among others.
According to Human Rights Watch [HRW], Cuban government regulations state that medical workers sent abroad may be disciplined if they have friendly ties to those
who hold “hostile or contrary views to the Cuban revolution.”

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