As Cuban doctors arrive in Europe we’re reminded why the NHS must always be a priority

Cuban doctors and nurses & Italian medical staff
Support us and go ad-free

On 22 March, over 50 doctors and nurses from Cuba arrived in Italy to help tackle the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Italy has recorded more coronavirus deaths than any country in the world. Whereas Cuba, according to recent statistics, has reported just one death.

And there’s a further bitter irony. Italy, like the UK, is a member of the wealthy “Group of Seven” (G7) industrialised nations of the world. Cuba on the other hand is ‘a poor country’ severely impacted by decades of US embargoes.

Yet for some reason, a country like Cuba seems capable of offering help to the overwhelmed healthcare system of a wealthier country. And in doing so, the Cuban system also serves as a stark reminder of the damage done to the NHS as a result of ‘brutal Tory cuts’.

The Cubans arrive

When these doctors and nurses arrived in Italy, they received a great welcome:

So some people took to social media to acknowledge why they had to come:

Meanwhile this Bernie Sanders supporter contrasted their arrival with Joe Biden’s attack on Sanders for his defence of the Cuban education system:

Cuban healthcare system

While US president Barack Obama eased his country’s embargo against Cuba, president Donald Trump made it harsher. But even with an embargo in place, the World Health Organisation (WHO) still praised Cuba’s healthcare system. And prior to this, in its ranking of countries with “the fairest mechanism for health-system finance”, the WHO placed Cuba ahead of other Latin American countries and the US.

This time of crisis

This isn’t the first time Cuban medical teams have responded to an international health crisis. They were also on the front line in the fight against Ebola in West Africa and cholera in Haiti. Additionally, Cuba has a drug – Interferon alpha-2b – that could be used in the fight against the coronavirus. China has used it and now the Irish government is considering doing likewise.

Capitalist systems in crisis

Years of Tory austerity have done untold damage to the NHS. This damage, along with Tory budget cuts, has ‘undermined patient care’. And now in a time of great crisis, we can see successive Cuban governments may have got their priorities right. It put its people’s health first.

There’ll be many lessons in this pandemic and sadly many losses. But maybe a positive would be to learn a lesson from Cuba, and invest in what really matters.

Featured image via Screengrab – Al Jazeera / YouTube – NBC News

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us