Cuban medical team heading for Sierra Leone

Cuba is known the world over for its ability to train
excellent doctors and nurses who can then go out to help other countries
in need. Currently there are more than 50 000 Cuban-trained health
workers in 66 countries.

WHO/M. Missioneiro

Dr Roberto Morales Ojeda, Minister of Public Health, has
announced that Cuba will send a medical team of 165 people to Sierra
Leone to help in the frontline in the Ebola response efforts.

“Human resources are clearly our most important need."

Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General at the World Health Organization

This is the largest offer of a foreign medical team from a single country during this outbreak.

“Money and materials are important, but those two things alone
cannot stop Ebola virus transmission,” says Dr Margaret Chan,
Director-General at the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Human resources are clearly our most important need. We need
most especially compassionate doctors and nurses, who will know how to
comfort patients despite the barriers of wearing PPE (personal
protective equipment) and working under very demanding conditions”.

Experienced team that has worked in crises

The Cuban team consists of 100 nurses, 50 doctors, 3
epidemiologists, 3 intensive care specialists, 3 infection control
specialist nurses and 5 social mobilization officers, all overseen by
epidemiologist Dr Jorge Juan Delgado Bustillo.

All of the Cuban health workers have more than 15 years’
experience and have worked in other countries facing natural disasters
and disease outbreaks. Some of the workers have already been working in
Sierra Leone and Guinea for some years and are willing to continue their
service there.

Once they have all followed WHO-standard infection control
training in Cuba, the team will pack supplies of PPE and travel to
Sierra Leone in early October. They will stay there for 6 months,
working in shifts in smaller teams in Ebola treatment centres and
community clinics.

WHO/T. Jasarevic

Strong message of solidarity

Dr Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director at WHO, says “Those of us
who have been working on the response efforts at WHO know how truly
valuable this offer is. Many countries have offered money but no other
country has offered such a large number of workers to go in and help do
the most difficult jobs in this crisis.”

It is hoped that this offer of support will send a strong
message of solidarity for Africa to the rest of the world and will
catalyse additional offers of support from other countries.