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Latino Daily News

Wednesday November 9, 2011

Cuban Doctors at the Forefront of Haiti’s Fight Against Cholera

Cuban Doctors at the Forefront of Haiti’s Fight Against Cholera

Photo: Cuban Doctors at the Forefront of Haiti's Fight Against Cholera

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As Haiti’s fight against cholera continues, it appears Cuban doctors leading the way when it comes to aid.

Over the last two years, Haiti’s earthquake and subsequent cholera epidemic have ravished the country’s population, but doctors from Cuba have never waned in their medical support for the country.

The Cuban medical missions have been going to Cuba for more than 50 years and in October of 2010, these doctors confirmed that cholera was to blame for the increased number of deaths.

More than 476,000 people in Haiti have been sickened by cholera, with 6,600 people having died. The United Nations has called this the highest rate of cholera in the world.

With help from donors and diplomats, the Cuban medical mission has been able to stay in Haiti and treat those affected by cholera, and remain vigilant in their efforts to improve the island’s, shared with the Dominican Republic, health care system.

Since 1960, Cuba has sent doctors all over the world in an act of “medical diplomacy” to help those in remote, rural areas receive health care. Doctors have been sent to Africa, Venezuela, and Haiti, to name a few.

After January 2010 earthquake that destroyed large sections of Haiti, Cuban medical missions were among the first sent to help.

However, it serves to be noted that Cuba also sees a great deal of foreign currency from many of these missions, with the export of medical services, bringing in more than $2 billion. Cuba generally asks each country they aid to pay about $2,500 a month for each doctor they send, though Haiti is not being charged anything.

Since Haiti’s cholera outbreak began, the Cuban mission has treated more than 76,000 cases of the disease, with 272 deaths.

Though the 37,000 Cuban doctors overseas generally get paid on a sliding scale, since Haiti in not paying for the doctors, they are paid roughly just $500 per month.

However, some may see the life these doctors lead as a gift, since most Cubans will never be able to leave their island nation.

Since the doctors are not allowed to bring family, the number of defections has remained low.