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Cuban Medical Brigade in Guatemala: multiplying love and solidarity (+Photos)

Havana, Nov 5 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban Medical Brigade (BMC) in Guatemala is celebrating 25 years on Sunday of an ongoing collaboration that recognizes mostly the indigenous, rural and historically discriminated population.

Sayaxche, Joyabac, Fray Bartolome, Huehuetenango, Ixcan, Nebaj and La Tinta are some places that Cuban physicians and nurses know from their stay in remote villages and communities, where they live and adjust to the heights, earthquakes, intense cold or extreme heat, as well as to diverse languages and customs.

The countless pages of solidarity date back to 1998, when Guatemala summoned the first doctors after Hurricane Mitch devastated the country.

La Tinta municipality in the Alta Verapaz Department was one of the places where the Cuban medical personnel left their imprint soon, as the arrivals of 31 other medical professionals facilitated the opening of a hospital that was totally inoperative due to the mud that covered a large part of its facilities, in just 48 hours.

Amid hygienic-sanitary conditions prone to cholera and malaria outbreaks, the Cubans implemented the primary healthcare approach, which is valid in their country to attack the causes of the problems and not just heal them.

This experience provided the tools to the specialist in General Comprehensive Medicine as the key actor of the Comprehensive Health Program, which sealed the Cooperation Agreement between both nations in Havana in April 1999.

The inviolable principles were to cover the most remote areas, where Guatemalan professionals did not go, and still don’t go, and to provide high-quality services without distinctions of race, creed or ideology in order to stop a hurricane that was much more silent than Mitch, death due to preventable diseases.

These 25 years are marked by statistics that have been appreciated by the Guatemalan Government as 569,000 surgical procedures, 176,442 during Operation Miracle; 242,630 births and 362,109 lives saved, as well as 10.4 billion patients attended to by Cuban doctors, including 4,850 cases by the the Henry Reeve Brigades.

Despite so many efforts to discredit its imprint in late 2020, the Cuban Medical Brigades (CMB) present in 16 of 22 Guatemalan departments felt the unconditional support of the neediest population for their services at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, where hospitals collapsed due to a shortage of personnel.

On an unusual press release, even the generally adverse press distanced itself from the fierce campaign and the then Guatemalan Health Minister Amelia Flores acknowledged Cuban cooperation as “indisputable and irreplaceable because they reach places where our personnel do not want to go.”

On November 5, the CMB has plenty of reasons to celebrate at district, regional and national hospitals (16), Maternal and Child Comprehensive Care Centers (12), health posts and areas (106), Permanent Care Centers (33) and ophthalmology centers (four).