U.S. government escalates campaign against Cuban international medical cooperation
Declaration from Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denouncing the dishonest campaign the U.S. government has conducted since 2019 to discredit Cuba’s international medical cooperation; exert pressure on the governments that have requested it and deprive peoples of these health services
MINREXoctober 1, 2020 11:10:21
Photo: Ariel Cecilio Lemus
The Cuban people and the international community are aware of the dishonest campaign the United States government has conducted since 2019 to discredit Cuba’s international medical cooperation; exert pressure on the governments that have requested it and deprive peoples of these health services.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba denounces that, as part of this offensive, the U.S. government has exerted pressure and coercion on the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).
Under the threat of cancelling its financial contribution, the United States, the principal contributor to the PAHO budget, has forced the Secretariat of the organization to accept what is called “an external audit of PAHO’s role in Brazil’s ‘More Doctors‘ program,” which involved the participation of thousands of Cuban professionals, at the express request of the Workers’ Party’s popular government. This program has been the target of to the most flagrant defamation campaign launched by the United States and the current Brazilian government.
The alleged concerns of the United States regarding Cuba’s cooperation, particularly in relation to the ‘More Doctors‘ program, are neither legitimate or worthy of further consideration by PAHO. The ‘More Doctors’ program, which has been evaluated several times previously with positive results, was established by virtue of a tripartite agreement between the Cuban government, the then Brazilian government and PAHO. Thanks to this program, from August 2013 through November 2018, Cuban doctors in Brazil assisted 113,000,359 patients in more than 3,600 municipalities and provided permanent health coverage to 60 million Brazilians. Thanks to this program, primary health care was expanded; access to health care and services increased; health indicators improved and hospital admissions decreased due to the preventive work carried out by Cuban doctors.
The level of satisfaction and acceptance among patients, doctors and the program’s managers was high. According to a survey made by the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), 95 per cent of patients reported that they were pleased or very pleased with the program.
If Cuba had not been forced to withdraw its doctors from Brazil, they could have contributed to combating and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic in that country, which is currently the second most affected by this disease in the world.
As was stated in the Declaration issued by the Cuban Ministry of Public Health on November 14, 2018, Cuba decided to discontinue its participation in the ‘More Doctors’ program, given the servile behavior of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who adopted a contemptuous, threatening attitude toward our cooperation workers and, in open disregard for PAHO and the agreement reached by this organization with Cuba, imposed modifications on the terms of the program, which led to non-compliance with originally agreed upon guarantees and the imposition of new conditions to the permanence of our professionals in that country, which were unacceptable.
The U.S. government’s attempt to manipulate international and regional bodies to its will is reprehensible. It is well known that the executive organs of PAHO have not adopted a single document mandating or legitimatizing the implementation of this audit or the drafting of its so-called “Terms of Reference.”
This document was drafted by a group including the United States, Brazil, PAHO’s own Secretariat and Canada, with the latter acting as mediator among the parties. Moreover, taking these arbitrary actions to an extreme, the entire audit process is being financed from PAHO’s regular budget.
With no mandate whatsoever, a U.S. law firm was hired to issue an adjusted and pre-determined audit within a period of 180 days, in accordance with the “Terms of Reference” that the select group headed by the United States had already defined.
No one with an elemental sense of honesty, knowing the intentions and behavior of the government of the United States, or with a modicum of common sense, would ever doubt that this is a blatant attack on multilateralism; a crude, politically-motivated manipulation of PAHO and an extension of aggression against Cuba.
After the denunciation of this maneuver by Dr. Jose Ángel Portal Miranda, Cuban Minister of Public Health, at the Fifty Eighth meeting of the PAHO Directing Council on September 28, the statements made by the representatives of the State Department demonstrated that the government of the United States is behind the pressure exerted on the Organization, against Cuba’s cooperative programs with member states of the region and the so-called “external audit” of the ‘More Doctors’ Program for Brazil. The United States went far beyond that and opposed the election of Cuba as member of the Executive Committee of PAHO, an action that failed to succeed thanks to the unanimous support that Cuba’s candidature received. During the sessions of the Council, several countries recognized and expressed their gratitude for the solidarity and cooperation offered by the Cuban medical staff to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba denounces that a spurious and mendacious audit is currently in the making, promoted by the United States, to serve its aggressive purposes, in an effort to discredit Cuba’s international cooperation.
It is unfortunate that, with this new maneuver, the U.S. government is attempting to damage Cuba’s relations with PAHO, which have historically been based on cooperation, respect, common identification of humanist goals and values and the determination to guarantee health quality services to the people. This has been the basis of a relationship that is a source of pride for Cuba.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba reiterates our firm commitment to the development and sustainability of its health system for the benefit of the Cuban people and cooperation with the peoples in the region and elsewhere in the world.
Cuba has this capacity, which has been created with our own efforts. This is a reality that no one can change.
Access to health care is a human right and the United States is committing a crime when it attempts to deprive millions of this inalienable right.
As was expressed in the Declaration issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 5, 2019, it is both immoral and unacceptable to question the dignity, professionalism and altruism of the more than 400,000 Cuban health cooperation workers, who have completed missions in 164 countries over 56 years.
The tightened economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba, the effects of which are particularly devastating in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic has not prevented, and will not prevent our country from sharing its scarce resources with other peoples in need around the world.
In addition to combating the pandemic within our borders, guided by the humanist and fraternal vocation of our people, Cuba has reinforced its international medical cooperation by sending more than 3,800 cooperation workers, organized in 52 medical brigades, to 39 countries and territories affected by the disease. These specialists joined those who were already offering their services in 59 states, prior to the outbreak of the pandemic.
As was expressed by the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, in his Reflection of October 20, 2014 entitled The Time of Duty, “the medical staff that is prepared to go to any region to save lives, even at the risk of losing their own, is the best example of solidarity that human beings can offer.”
Havana, September 30, 2020.