Cuba’s health diplomacy in the age of Ebola


Eduardo J Gomez (Kings College, London) writes about Cuba’s impressive response in all medical emergencies, including the Ebola outbreak. As he points out, Cuba’s medical students have always been taught that it is their duty to serve others and, at present, more than 50,000 Cuban medical personnel are working in over 66 countries. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

Amid the worst Ebola outbreak of our time, it has been the small island nation of Cuba that has provided arguably the most impressive policy response. Instead of offering financial assistance to those West African nations most in need, the Cuban government has focused on providing skilled healthcare workers passionate about helping Ebola victims.

The Cuban response is based on a combination of pre-existing government commitments to the provision of universal healthcare, the establishment of a medical education system emphasizing service to others, and Cuba’s efforts to bolster its international reputation.

Health diplomacy

Cuba’s government has a long history of providing universal healthcare as a human right, a belief that was enshrined in the 1976 constitution. Consequently, it has always been committed to helping other nations in need, extending the government’s policy beliefs beyond its borders.

These efforts were partly inspired by Ernesto Che Guevara, the Argentine-born doctor who fought alongside Fidel Castro during the Cuban revolution. Che Guevara repeatedly encouraged doctors to use their medical skills in the service of others.

These beliefs were first put into practice during the 1960s, beginning with the provision of medical aid to Chile in response to its May 1960 earthquake. In the 1970s and 80s, Cuba offered medical assistance to warn-torn South Africa, Algeria, Zaire, Congo, and Ghana.

More recently, Cuban doctors travelled to Sri Lanka following the 2004 tsunami.

They also treated victims of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan and the 2010 quake which devastated much of Haiti.

Last year, Cuba sent 4,000 doctors to Brazil alone in order to help provide healthcare in remote rural areas. [. . .]

For full article, see

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