British academic, Helen Yaffe, has nominated Cuba’s Henry Reeve International Medical Contingent to receive the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for their contribution to tackling COVID-19 in 39 countries around the world.
“Having researched the development of Cuba’s public healthcare system and its ‘medical internationalism’, I appeal to the Nobel Committee to break the silence about this incredible record by awarding the Henry Reeve International Medical Contingent the Nobel Peace Prize,” Yaffe stated in a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee that is responsible for selecting the winners.
In her missive, the Lecturer in Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow also states that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 400,000 Cuban medical professionals had already served overseas in 164 countries since 1960. “Who can deserve this recognition more than the Cuban medical specialists who make such huge personal sacrifices, leaving behind their family and homes, their culture and communities, to work in challenging and risky conditions for months or even years?” asks Yaffe.
After highlighting that politicians and the mainstream media hardly mention them at all, the British academic emphasises that doctors from this Caribbean island have saved millions of lives and improved health conditions for hundreds of millions more people.
Yaffe also recounts the history of Cuban medical internationalism for the Nobel Committee; as she states, this began with the aid Cuba provided to victims of the 1960 earthquake in Chile, and subsequently continued, including dozens of countries hit hardest by natural disasters or epidemics such as Ebola, and more recently, COVID-19.
“This is the fruit of a welfare-based development model which promotes collaboration over competition and in which international solidarity is upheld as the highest expression of humanity,” states Yaffe, having highlighted that Cuba also funded a medical school to train doctors from overseas.
Author of several books on the Caribbean island, the academic explains that Cuba’s efforts are all the more deserving of increased recognition, having been carried out by a small country, which has been kept under commercial, financial and economic blockade by the United States for almost 60 years.
For example, Yaffe states that in 2019 alone, the Trump administration introduced 86 new sanctions against Cuba, starving the country of revenue, scaring off foreign partners and creating shortages of food and basic necessities.
“The Nobel Prize Committee has an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the values it seeks to promote. I hope you will heed the international clamour for a kinder and fairer future and award Cuba’s epidemiological internationalists the Nobel Peace Prize”, the letter concludes. (PL)