Doctors of the World, From Haiti to Cuba

Editor’s Note: Steve Brouwer’s book Revolutionary Doctors is a must read for anyone interested in Cuba’s internationalist ELAM program and the Cuban Medical Brigade. These doctors truly do revolutionary work, responding to natural disasters all over the world and helping the nations of the Global South build better healthcare systems. Below I have posted an interview with Brouwer.

— Nina Westbury

Amelia Duarte de la Rosa

PORT-AU-PRINCE.—A new group of 22 graduates from the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana (ELAM) has arrived in Haiti on an internationalist mission, to work alongside the Cuban Medical Brigade (BMC). Its members will provide medical attention and preventive and rehabilitation services for the Haitian people, while specializing in comprehensive general medicine.

On this occasion, these young doctors from Peru, El Salvador, Bolivia and Ecuador are joining another 20 Latin American graduates working and complementing their academic training in a number of communes in Haiti’s 10 departments.

A total of 387 ELAM graduates have undertaken medical missions in Haiti from February 2010 to date. The practice of incorporating professionals from 27 countries into the Cuban medical mission, the first to do so, took place after the 2010 earthquake in order to reinforce the specialized disaster work of the Cuban Henry Reeve Brigade.

As the dean of the Cuban brigade, Zoila Medina, explained to Granma, the incorporation of ELAM students has been a great support for the brigade. “Although they are young, they have worked very responsibly. After the earthquake and the during the cholera epidemic, they played a basic role in the pro-active monitoring groups, while taking part in all the tasks developed within the BMC, from the treatment, teaching and investigative points of view.”

Medina adds, “Being in Haiti has a major repercussion on their professional lives. They have had to confront a group of life threatening diseases that are commonplace in their countries, but which no longer exist in Cuba. And so, in a way, they are training to confront these health problems. Working on this mission creates within them a sense of internationalism, which is one of the principles of Cuban medicine and something that Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro has always wished to instill in young graduates. From here we are training doctors of the world and for the world.”

The new graduates are accompanied by the third group of medical professors, who will remain in Haiti for two months to support the BMC’s academic program.


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