In a Nov. 26 newspaper column, former Cuban president Fidel Castro Ruz announced that the Cuban government was sending “a contingent of the Henry Reeves Brigade, composed of 300 doctors, nurses and healthcare technicians” to Haiti to help fight a cholera epidemic there. This will bring the number of Cuban professionals in Haiti to about 1,265. Cuban personnel are treating almost 40% of the cholera victims, according to Castro.
The Henry Reeves Brigade is named for a US citizen who died in 1876 while fighting for Cuba‘s liberation from Spain.
Castro noted that while Latin America and the Caribbean were free of cholera for most of the 20th century, an epidemic that broke out in Peru in January 1991 quickly spread through 16 countries in the region, with 650,000 cases appearing over the next six years. “It is of the highest importance to avoid having the epidemic extend to other Latin American and Caribbean countries, because in the current circumstances it would cause extraordinary harm to the nations of this hemisphere,” Castro wrote. (La Jornada, Mexico, Nov. 26)
The United Nations (UN) is seeking $164 million to fight the epidemic, but it had only received $19.4 million from donor nations as of Nov. 26, according to UN spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs, who called for a faster response. The Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) reported on Nov. 26 that at least 1,648 people had died from cholera since it appeared in Haiti in mid-October, 72,017 people had contracted the disease, and 31,210 of them had required hospitalization. (LJ, Nov. 27, from AFP, DPA)
Six cases had been confirmed in the neighboring Dominican Republic as of Nov. 27. The two most recent cases were a three-year-old girl in Villa González, Santiago province, and a 12-year-old boy in Santo Domingo province. Public Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gómez said both patients were out of danger. (Hoy Nueva York, Nov. 28, from El Diario-La Prensa)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 28.
See our last post on Haiti.