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Fighting the pandemic: Cuban doctors on Venezuelan soil

Faced with an influx of thousands of migrants returning from Brazil, a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals from the Cuban Medical Mission in Venezuela is on the front line in containing the Covid-19 pandemic at the border.


Dailyn Ruano Martínez


The 21 specialists of the first brigade of the Ernesto Guevara contingent have continued to work for more than a month in the Gran Sabana municipality. This is the preferred location for entry into Venezuela by dual nationals from Brazil, currently considered to be the epicentre of the pandemic in South America.

In conditions where approximately 55,000 Venezuelans have returned to the country during recent weeks, intensive care doctors, nursing staff, clinical laboratory staff, x-ray staff and electromedical staff are putting their heart and soul into the mission to strengthen the health armour at the border.

The healthcare work being carried out by the Cuban staff in the city of Santa Helena de Uairén (a few kilometres from the neighbouring country), is being carried out at a time when the Venezuelan government is demanding strict compliance with epidemiological protocol at the borders due to the rise in the amount of people infected with the coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 returning to the country.

One of the people carrying out such work is the specialist in General Integrative Medicine, Hygiene and Epidemiology, Rafael Sosa, who has taken part in four international missions; one in Equatorial Guinea, one in Pakistan and two missions in Venezuela. Rafael Sosa told the Prensa Latina that his work within the brigade is the toughest he has ever experienced in all of his years of practice.

“The work allocated there, at the border with Brazil, requires training and continual education in order to achieve strict epidemiological monitoring through the active investigation of cases with quick testing, the control of transmission in communities and the timely detection of those infected people returning home, to stop the contagion”, the Cuban doctor explains.

Face to face contact with Covid-19 patients involves a two-fold challenge for doctors; as well as preventing the spread of the new coronavirus amongst the Venezuelan population, the health of the medical staff must also be protected.

In 2006, Sosa created the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specialising in Disasters and Serious Epidemics and works 10-hour days with no break.

Healthcare technology

According to the graduate in electromedicine, Yasel Deliz, the proper functioning of medical equipment is guaranteed in the border city of Santa Elena de Uairén, in order to provide optimal care to patients.

The work carried out by the specialist requires responsibility and experience. Deliz responded immediately to the proposal to create the Ernest Guevara contingency in response to a request put out by the governmental authorities of the largest state in Venezuela.

“As a Cuban health professional, I am incredibly proud of the trust placed in me to be able to represent my homeland in its sister nation, particularly during times when we are faced with a dangerous illness such as Covid-19”, he says.

In a statement to the Prensa Latina, the Cuban doctor in electromedicine said that as well as ensuring the proper functioning of healthcare technology, he also assists with colleague logistics in the brigade.

Thanks to the work of professionals in electromedicine, health care staff are able to provide an excellent service to the population in that they are now able to maintain the equipment in optimal condition, enabling them to carry out reliable patient studies and help the country to save vast quantities of money with regards repair and replacement parts.

To that effect, Deliz, took the opportunity to use medical equipment that did not have replacement parts and was able to maintain technical availability at more than 97.6%

As a period of education and knowledge within a new era, he adds that the current challenge “will leave indelible marks in my personal life and my professional career”.

From Gibara to Santa Helena

The Cuban nurse, María Nela Bermúdez Saumell, manages the task force in the ‘Ernesto Guevara’ contingency. She has given three years of her life to work in Venezuela and says that it is “teamwork, combined with effort in one of many examples of solidarity and love that the Cuban medical mission gives to our Venezuelan brothers and sisters”.

Between the nostalgia for family hugs and her home city, Gibara, on the north east coast of Cuba, María Nela is emotional as she remembers how happy the Venezuelan migrants are when they are given good, free medical care from the Cubans.

They provide care equally to all, regardless of political or religious affiliations. “Our duty as healthcare professionals”, she says, “is to protect the health of the ill and to ensure that they arrive safely at their destination”. (PL)

(Translated by Corrine Harries – Email: – Photos: Pixabay

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