Analysis

Mzwandile Masina Joins China & Italy in Seeking Assistance From Cuba In the Fight Against Corona Virus

By Pinky Khoabane

EKHURULENI Mayor Mzwandile Masina last week made bold proclamations that the City would look to Cuba to find assistance in the battle against Covid-19. 

Reuters reported yesterday that:  “Communist-run Cuba said it dispatched a brigade of doctors and nurses to Italy for the first time this weekend to help in the fight against the novel coronavirus at the request of the worst-affected region Lombardy.

Masina, a supporter of former President Jacob Zuma, was ridiculed by some in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s faction including playwright Zakes Mda who tweeted that he believed in the statements of two doctors in Ramaphosa’s cabinet, Zweli Mkhize and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The two ministers were quick to issue statements that there was no cure for the Corona Virus. (Will post their statements and those from members in the cabinet). 

Reuters continued: “The Caribbean island has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 revolution. Its doctors were in the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s.

“Yet with the 52-strong brigade, this is the first time Cuba has sent an emergency contingent to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries, demonstrating the reach of its medical diplomacy.

“This is the sixth medical brigade Cuba has sent in recent days to combat the spread of the new disease abroad. It has sent contingents to socialist allies Venezuela and Nicaragua as well as Jamaica, Suriname and Grenada.

“We are all afraid but we have a revolutionary duty to fulfill, so we take out fear and put it to one side,” Leonardo Fernandez, 68, an intensive care specialist, told Reuters late on Saturday shortly before his brigade’s departure.

 “He who says he is not afraid is a superhero, but we are not superheros, we are revolutionary doctors.”

Fernandez said this would be his eighth international mission, including one in Liberia during the fight against ebola.

Italy is the country that has been worst affected by the highly contagious virus that ‘originated in China’, with the northern region of Lombardy bearing the brunt of the contagion. 

Its death toll rose on Saturday by 546 to 3,095, according to its head of welfare, Giulio Gallera, who requested the Cuban doctors.

We are going to fulfill an honorable task, based on the principle of solidarity,” said Graciliano Díaz, 64.

Cuba built a healthcare system that was the envy of the developing world with economic aid from former ally Soviet Union, though some of those advances have been lost since the communist bloc collapsed.

Many Cuban hospitals have fallen into disrepair and Cubans say they have difficulty finding medicine, a situation the government says is largely due to decades-old U.S. sanctions although analysts blame also the inefficient state-run economy.

Still, Cuba has one of the highest ratios worldwide of physicians per capita even when excluding those doctors abroad, and its medical brigades for disaster relief continue to earn Havana goodwill worldwide.

“In a time of crisis, the Cuban government, the Cuban people … have risen to the occasion, they have heard our appeal and they have responded,” Jamaican Health Minister Christopher Tufton said on Saturday upon greeting 140 Cuban medical professionals at Kingston international airport.

Britain also thanked Cuba last week for allowing a British cruise ship that had been turned away by several Caribbean ports to dock on the island and for enabling the evacuation of the more than 600 passengers onboard. 

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2 Comments

    1. I truly hope he will not cover in fear of being named one thing or another. He must procure the services if it can be done within his mandate. He however says he has already procured ARVs for his metro before and there was no problem. I hope he goes ahead and try and save lives.

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