- Cuba is sending a medical team to help Italy with its battle against covid-19
- The island nation has sent many teams out in the past to help with outbreaks of cholera and ebola
- Italy is the epicentre of the European outbreak and the healthcare system is under considerable strain
Cuba has mobilised a team of 52 doctors and nurses who will leave for Europe to help exhausted medical teams in Italy fight the covid-19 outbreak.
The Caribbean island is known for sending its medical teams out to help out in other parts of the world, teams have been sent for battle cholera in Haiti, ebola in West Africa in the 2010's.
However, this is the first time that Cuba will send a team to one of the richest countries in the world. This is the 6th medical team Cuba has dispatched in the last few weeks, with previous teams heading out to its neighbours in Jamaica, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Suriname and Grenada.
“We are all afraid but we have a revolutionary duty to fulfill, so we take out fear and put it to one side,” Leonardo Fernandez, 68, an intensive care specialist, told Reuters late on Saturday shortly before his brigade’s departure. He who says he is not afraid is a superhero, but we are not superheroes, we are revolutionary doctors.”
Fernandez has taken part in 8 international missions, including on in Liberia where he helped battle against ebola.
Italy is the epicentre of the European outbreak and has confirmed cases in the tens of thousands and hundreds of deaths a day from the virus.
Giulio Gallera, Italy's head of welfare, requested help from Cuba after the death toll rose by 546 to a staggering 3095.
Cuba has built an impressive healthcare system, however, it has since deteriorated after the fall of the communist bloc and the economic support from the Soviet Union dried up.
The island nation still has one of the highest ratios of physicians per capita, even when they send medical teams abroad.
“In a time of crisis, the Cuban government, the Cuban people…have risen to the occasion, they have heard our appeal and they have responded,” Jamaican Health Minister Christopher Tufton said on Saturday upon greeting 140 Cuban medical professionals at Kingston international airport.
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