On May 23, Tuesday, Cuba marked the 60th anniversary of its global health assistance initiative, a program that has extended its solidarity to countries worldwide. This initiative officially commenced on the same date in 1963, when Cuba dispatched its inaugural medical brigade to Algeria, freshly freed from French rule, as France had withdrawn its medical staff following Algeria’s victorious independence struggle.
However, prior to this, a small contingent of Cuban doctors had been dispatched to Chile in 1960 in response to an earthquake that had occurred there.
From that point forward, the scope of Cuba’s health solidarity has experienced significant growth. Cuban healthcare professionals have offered their services to over three million people, performing over 16,000 surgical procedures in 165 countries. These professionals have bravely ventured into perilous areas where even local doctors and healthcare workers have been apprehensive to approach, including regions affected by cholera outbreaks and the fearsome Ebola epidemic in Africa. It’s approximated that through this global healthcare initiative, Cuba has helped save over eight million lives globally.
Various countries, primarily in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, owe a great debt of gratitude to Cuba for this priceless assistance. Currently, 22,632 Cuban health professionals are serving in about 57 countries. Alongside the Cuban health workers stationed in St Vincent and the Grenadines, seven specialists have recently arrived from Cuba to assist with the setup and operation of new MRI equipment at the Modern Medical Complex in Georgetown.
Despite these humanitarian efforts, the United States has criticized this assistance, labeling it as “human trafficking”. It’s a unique case of alleged “trafficking” that has, paradoxically, saved countless lives and provided medical care to those who otherwise would not have access to it.