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Cuba leading the World in the fight against Ebola

Featured Doctors being trained in Cuba to deal with Ebola. (Photo: Reuters) Doctors being trained in Cuba to deal with Ebola.
KINGSTON,  Jamaica Oct. 5, 2014 - As the Jamaican health ministry concretizes its plans to combat the deadly Ebola virus, there is word that the Ministry may enlist Cuba's assistance in making the country Ebola resistant.

The health ministry may send a contingent of health professionals to the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, one of the world’s most advanced medical school, for intensive Ebola prevention training.

On Saturday, the Washington Post said "In the medical response to Ebola, Cuba is punching far above its weight."

Indeed, while the rest of the world has been shunning the global effort to combat Ebola, Cuba has become a primary provider of medical expertise to West African nations grappling with the disease.

On Thursday, 165 Cuban health professionals arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone to join the international campaign to contain and treat Ebola. The group was the largest contingent to arrive from any foreign country, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

After receiving training to deal with the virus, approximately 296 Cuban doctors and nurses will be dispatched to Liberia and Guinea.

Cuba pledged 300 more doctors and nurses to battle the Ebola epidemic in West Africa on Friday. With a staff of over 460 Ebola specialists, Cuba will by far have the largest foreign medical team combating the disease in West Africa.

The new batch of Ebola specialists are undergoing intensive training, said head of the Cuban medical relief agency, Regla Angulo. They will be sent to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Cuba, which has about 50,000 health workers stationed across the world, received accolades from the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO) for its effort against Ebola, last week, when it already had the largest foreign medical team fighting the killer virus in West Africa, consisting of 62 doctors and 103 nurses. 

Conversely, the United States, far more developed and technically competent and more financially able than Cuba, recently announced that it would send 3,000 troops, not doctors to West Africa.  In addition, the U.S. pledged 65 clinicians and support staff, to treat infected health care workers, but not civilians.

Cuba's latest decision comes as health experts from 16 European countries petitioned their governments to increase aid to the disease stricken region.

"After months of inaction and neglect from the international community, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has now spiraled utterly out of control," they wrote in an open letter, adding "We urge our governments to mobilize all possible resources to assist West Africa in dealing with this horrific epidemic."

According to the Washington Post, it’s Cuba’s low cost public health care system that enables the country to massively export its health services.    

The benefits of a low cost health system are evidenced by comparing the relatively poor country to how people fare in wealthier countries. An OECD study published in 2013 found that while people in the U.S. pay the most out of any OECD nation for healthcare, U.S. life expectancy has fallen  since the 1970s, to 76 years. Meanwhile, Cubans live an average of 77 years, longer than many countries.  

A WHO study on Cuba’s primary health care system conducted in 2008 noted that the country had made great strides in certain health indices. In 2004, for instance, there were seven child deaths per 1000 children aged less than five years, down to one-seventh of the child death rate from 40 years ago.

The Ebola epidemic has already claimed about 3,000 lives in West Africa, with the number of infected people to reach 20,000 by November, WHO said.

Last modified onSunday, 05 October 2014 11:21

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