Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cuba's Henry Reeve Emergency Brigade returns from Haiti

International Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics. Photo: Jorge Luis Guibert

Cuban Emergency Medical Brigade Begins to Return From Haiti.

Members of the Henry Reeve Emergency Brigade, an international medical contingent of Cuban health specialists in disaster situations and epidemics, began to return home to Cuba on March 14

By: Odalis Riquenes Cutiño


2011-03-16 | 09:34:51 EST

SANTIAGO DE CUBA.— Members of the Henry Reeve Emergency Brigade, an international medical contingent of Cuban health specialists in disaster situations and epidemics, began to return home to Cuba on March 14.

The specialized brigade has been supporting the work of Cuban doctors serving in Haiti to combat the cholera epidemic. The first group of 65 specialists arrived to the Antonio Maceo airport in Santiago de Cuba on Monday where they were welcomed by provincial representatives from the Communist Party, government and Ministry of Health.

While in Haiti, the group of doctors, nurses, technicians and other health-care professionals once again highlighted the priority placed by the Cuban medical education system on humane and ethical values. The team played a decisive role in getting the cholera epidemic under control and were presented with a diploma signed by the Cuban Health-Care minister upon their return.

On behalf of the brigade members, Nurse Miriam Riera said they were satisfied at having successfully accomplished this humble and difficult mission, and proud of having saved so many lives. The remaining members of the brigade will be returning to Cuba over the coming days.
Riera said that the Cuban heath specialists who had been working there for four months faced several challenging situations provoked by the dangerous illness, which can be lethal if the patient doesn’t receive immediate attention.

Faced with a very difficult panorama, the members of the Henry Reeve Brigade harmoniously integrated with the Cuban medical brigade deployed in 67 cholera treatment centers run by Cuba around Haiti, and saved the lives of more than 70,000 Haitians.

Miriam Riera said that 272 patients died after arriving to the treatment centers in critical condition, producing a fatality rate of 0.38 percent, the best rate among the international medical teams fighting the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

The work of the Henry Reeve Brigade and the Cuban medical Brigade in Haiti also put in motion Fidel Castro’s idea to create investigative groups, consisting of two doctors and three nurses, to travel to the most remote and poorest regions in search of cholera infected patents while raising awareness about prevention.

These groups carried out more than 3,000 visits to small communities, discovering 5,192 sick patients who received treatment until their complete recovery. This proved to be a decisive component in the effort to control the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

During the welcoming address, Dr. Jorge Miranda, head of health-care in Santiago de Cuba, spoke highly of the work of the Cuban collaborators, who overcame all adversities and made several sacrifices. He noted that their mission in Haiti certainly provided them with new and rewarding experiences both as health specialists and human beings.

Cuba has provided medical services to Haiti for 11 years. Currently, there are 125 health-care workers from Santiago de Cuba serving in Haiti as part of the Cuban Medical Brigade. In addition, 47 members of the Henry Reeve Brigade were also from this province; including seven students from the Latin American School of Medicine in Santiago de Cuba, reported Dr. Héctor Mustelier Ferrer, head of the Provincial Medical Collaboration Unit.

The Henry Reeve Emergency Brigade or International Medical Contingent of Cuban Specialists in Disaster Situations and Epidemics was founded by Commander in Chief Fidel Castro on September 19, 2005. With more than 10,000 members, its first mission was to support the Pakistan people after the terrible 2005 earthquake.



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