By Arailaisy Rosabal García/ Radio Cadena Agramonte.
Devastating, apocalyptical, painful, sad … I’m simply running out of words to describe the earthquake that hit Haiti twelve months ago. The conditions in that country were already precarious, and after the January 12th catastrophe the future of that people seemed to have been sealed: a long lasting desolation.
One year after that event- considered by the United Nations as the worst disaster the organization had ever dealt with- the panorama hasn’t changed much. About 800,000 people are living in camps; the streets are still littered with rubbles, half of the population is lacking drinking water, only 10 percent of the promised international monetary aid has arrived, and the worst of all, the current cholera epidemic has spread throughout the country.
Yesterday when Port-au-Prince dressed in white honoring those 316,000 Haitians who died during the quake, diverse foreign media outlets spoke about the continuous neglects concerning hundreds of promises by governments and organizations of all over the world, which seem to ignore Haiti. However, none said a word about the Cuban medical cooperation, which has reduced and kept mortality of those infected with cholera to zero during the last 17 days.
Long before the disaster, Cuba was already helping the sister Caribbean nation. Nearly 350 professionals had been working there since 1998 as part of a comprehensive health program. In the meanwhile, some 600 Haitian young people were studying at the Latin-American School of Medicine, a project founded by the leader of the Cuban Revolution.
Twenty four hours after the harrowing earthquake, an aircraft loaded with surgical and sanitary material and with more than 60 specialists departed from Havana to join those Cubans who were saving lives in neighboring country.
In only one month, nearly 1,700 medical doctors from Cuba arrived in Haiti, and immediately began to give the first aids to the casualties and picked up the dead bodies among the dust and rubble. At first, the overcrowding in urgency rooms was such, that the personnel had to work up to 48 hours, and they couldn’t take surgeries.
A whole of 11 premises were prepared, among them five field hospitals, with all the essential resources to provide an appropriate care in case of a catastrophe. In addition, rehabilitation centers were set up, and began to help rebuilding the Haitian health system, for instance, the reconstruction of 30 community referential hospitals.
Cuban cooperation was also key in the mitigation of the brutal psychosocial damage, fundamentally among children. The Martha Machado Artistic Brigade also arrived in this country bringing music, painting, plays and humor, to draw a new smile on the faces of the Haitian children.
With the outbreak of cholera, the Cuban medical brigade was the first one to help the people infested and today more than 56,967 have received their medical services, almost the third part of the people infested. Although 271 people died in the hands of the Cubans, these professionals have managed to reduce the mortality rate to 0.48, the lowest of all centers, some of which have announced their withdrawal next month.
Unlike them, the help from Cuba grows day by day. A total of 34 units have been established to treat the cholera and active enquiry groups have been created to visit the furthest corners of that country, where they also work to prevent and guide the population on hwo to deal with the epidemic breaking even the barriers of language.
Yes, Cuba has fulfilled her obligations with Haiti, and even so, dissatisfaction is big maybe because we have learnt that love has no limits, That’s why, although the foreign press ignores the greatness of these “authentic priests of the human health”, “pastors to the service of life”, “apostles and creators of a more human world” - as Fidel Castro once said about
the Cuban medical personnel - this island nation will continue giving her heart to the people in need.(Translated by Gualveris Rosales Sanchez)