By Haydee León Moya
March 20, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Guantánamo: Where they take their delegate to account, that is where it took place: in the community park. People arrived well before the scheduled time to attend a public health hearing on the coronavirus.
They were heard talking about the subject and what they were interested in being informed about. A young doctor from outside the neighborhood also arrived early and wrote down what he heard.
I never saw such quietness in the girl who was accompanying the adults. “This is very serious and you can’t interrupt,” a grandmother told her grandson, shortly before the young and very active leader of the neighborhood introduced the visitor in the white coat for a masterful lecture.
As a specialist in General Integral Medicine at the community polyclinic, he updated us on the positive cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Cuba until that evening. He explained the history of the disease, the ways in which it is transmitted, the symptoms that, if they appear, should make us go immediately to a medical institution.
He also gave the telephone number of the Command Post where one can ask for any guidance and made it clear that nobody can trust that their cough or fever is from a cold of days ago: You have to go to the doctor and demand that behavior in every house, as well as smearing hypochlorite on the common surfaces, which in the neighborhood pharmacy are regulating its sale so that everyone has enough.
“The doctor’s office is the closest, so you don’t waste any time, but you can go to the one you want,” the doctor replied.
“Listen, I know of a person who came from outside and spent the night coughing. What can you do if you don’t want to go to the hospital?” asked another neighbour.
“Well, you must isolate him and demand that he go to the doctor, or you can call the telephone I gave you and report it,” explained the specialist very seriously.
“But look, doctor: look at all the positive cases in Cuba, if not foreigners, at least they have had contact with those people or visited countries where the disease is spreading. If you see one of those cases, to prevent them from walking in the street it’s better to call the command post and have them pick you up in an ambulance, don’t you think?”, said another.
“That’s very good and it’s already planned. People who have an illness related to the characteristics of this disease should participate actively and responsibly in the protection of the rest of the population,” insisted the doctor, and answered other questions from the same court.
That is precisely the value of these public exchanges in the open air: People inform themselves, participate, anticipate and learn, thinking about their own and others with a more responsible tone.
This is a struggle in which we are all involved, of a social nature, and in which each one must impose on him/herself the condition of being responsible, for his own good and that of others.
By Ventura de Jesús
March 21, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Covid-19 continues to spread around the world, with increasing levels of infection and death. The signal is very clear: protocols for prevention and control must be followed, and very strict health rules must be observed in order to avoid at all costs contagion and the spread of the disease.
There are various measures and lessons to flatten the epidemic’s curve and the emphasis is on collective awareness, discipline, and individual responsibility.
In addition to strengthening hygiene care, experts warn that personal behavior is key. They recommend social distancing measures, such as voluntary quarantine and isolation, as well as avoiding displacement and crowding.
Others are aimed at not shaking hands and avoiding kisses, and trying to keep at least one meter away from other people, something whose benefit nobody doubts, but which to a certain extent is tormenting for Cubans, since they quarrel with habits that are deeply rooted in our society.
Visual and physical contact in Cuba does not have the same connotation as in other parts of the world. According to scholars, it is part of nature and responds to socio-cultural and historical phenomena.
Fortunately, there are those who have given up on the fraternal embraces, friendly romps and other approaches that usually characterize the encounters between acquaintances, friends and family on the island.
There are more and more people who greet you from a distance or give you an affective glance from afar. There are even those, the few, who pass by without looking. They believe that this does not hurt anyone’s feelings, and is healthy for the purpose of evading the Covid-19.
The truth is that putting aside, or postponing for the time being, the relationship of joyful camaraderie in the form of handshakes or necking, need not sour anyone’s character or be a source of laughter or mockery. Everyone should understand the reasons and not overlook the importance of caution, even against their will.
Despite many exhortations, many people still do not take this particular matter seriously, and there is no human power capable of persuading them that, for example, affectionate greetings should be avoided.
Perhaps that is why we Latinos, and particularly Cubans, are like that. There are those who think that a kiss does not hurt anyone and find it extravagant to greet each other with an elbow or with simple gestures from a distance. They consider it a useless torture and continue to obey that ancient custom of shaking hands or hugging a friend.
Although some do not seem to be aware of it, this pandemic is dangerous and causes countless setbacks, including some that are related to our daily habits.
Cubans, bound by affection and solidarity, must continue to work with serenity, security and discipline to successfully confront the new coronavirus, as President Miguel Díaz-Canel indicated.
On an individual level, this means not losing track of reality and looking at the faces of others with our hands on our hearts. In this way, we accompany the country’s decisions and do not fail in the will that guides us in this battle.
It is a struggle in which we are all involved, of a social nature, and in which each one must impose on themselves the condition of being responsible, for your own good and for that of others. For the time being, we must postpone some customary habits. It is convenient for everyone, for you and for me. It is the most prudent thing to do.
By Lisandra Romeo Matos and Lisandra Fariñas Acosta
Cubadebate journalist. Degree in Journalism (2011), Universidad de Oriente. Worked at the Cuban News Agency (2011-2018).
February 28, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
First Nations leaders and health technicians from Manitoba and Alberta in Canada expressed their communities’ interest in establishing cooperation links with Cuba in the field of health.
After a week in Havana, where they toured several institutions in the sector and held meetings with authorities in the field, including the head of the country, Dr. José Ángel Portal Miranda, they announced this Friday at a press conference their growing desire that the Island be able to provide them with professionals trained in basic health services, who can attend to the needs of these for decades marginalized communities.
Jerry Daniels, the great chief of the southern region of Manitoba, and of the Organization of the Chiefs of the South, which represents 34 of the more than 600 native nations of Canada, said at Hotel Nacional de Cuba that these peoples “have been limited in their access to health care provided by the government,” and that is why they demand health care providers and various services in these communities.
He said that these communities “are in the midst of a process of transformation of care services, aimed particularly at creating and facilitating access, not only in infrastructure, but also in decision-making and training of professionals.
What we all agree on is that we need many more providers and access to health care, quality services, and professionals to assist these communities, especially in the most remote ones,” he remarked.
According to Daniels, Cuba has a structure in place and is recognized for using it, in addition to having cooperation programs consisting of sending health professionals to various nations, where they do their work with quality and contribute to saving lives even in the most difficult to reach regions.
He added that the Cuban government “can help in two fundamental aspects: sending doctors and other professionals to work in our communities to provide health services, and training specialists at the Latin American School of Medicine to return and cover existing health needs.
We are pleased to imagine that hundreds of health professionals will come to our communities and heal women, children, the elderly and other vulnerable populations. It would be a truly promising future, the native leader argued.
According to Daniel, another impact would be that by improving access to health care in these communities, in a more just and professional way, the migration of these populations to the cities in search of these services would be reduced.
“We want our communities to have health posts, hospitals and other assistance centers, and I urge the other chiefs of the first nations to open up to this possibility of collaboration with Cuba, which we need so much,” he said.
He called for accelerating the process of finding solutions to reverse existing health problems in these locations, such as diabetes, cancer, among other factors. “That is why we are here and we call on all world leaders to help us find solutions to provide better, quality health systems,” he summarized.
For Chief Dave Ledoux of the Gambler Pueblo, the offer from Cuba to the native peoples in Canada corresponds to the Cuban health mission around the world since 1959.
The leader highlighted the recognition of the Island’s health system by the WHO, as well as the quality and its preventive and holistic model, which has allowed to achieve minimal infant mortality rates, and to increase the life expectancy of its population.
“Thousands of students from all over the world have come to Cuba to study the different medical specialties in the last 60 years,” he pondered, and emphasized that it would be an opportune moment for this offer of help, “since we are currently rebuilding our communities to get out of decades of systemic institutional oppression.
The health philosophy of this country and its values are very similar to the traditional medicine model of our peoples, said Deloux.
The more than 600 first nations in Canada include more than one million people who would benefit from these services, he said. He added that from these initial meetings in Havana they are optimistic and hope to apply the ideas, designs and organizational strategies observed in the Cuban health system.