Haitian Doctors Trained In Cuba Making a Difference
Fifty-five new Haitian doctors trained at the Caribbean Faculty in Santiago de Cuba will receive their titles in a celebration to be held in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on August 13. This brings the total to 544 Haitians physicians trained in Cuba since Fidel Castro implemented the scholarship program.
This program represents one of the most important aspects of Cuban cooperation with Haiti in the health sector, providing doctors to the poorest nation in the hemisphere.
The project began in December 1998 when Cuban healthcare professionals arrived to Haiti to help out in the aftermath of Hurricane George. Cooperation expanded shortly afterwards with Cuban doctors serving in remote communities to many Haitians who were attended for the first time by a doctor.
Currently there are 358 Cuban health professionals in the 10 departments of Haiti, under the leadership of Dr. Carlos Alberto García Domínguez who heads the mission in Haiti.
The first Haitian students, 132, began to arrive to study in Cuba on May 17, 1999.
Dr. Carlos Alberto García Domínguez told JREB that 2,149 Cuban health professionals have served in Haiti since 1998.
The work is always a challenge, especially in under-developed nations such as Haiti. During these 15 years of work in Haiti, the Cuban doctors have attended to close to 6 million patients free of charge, almost all of them in the same communities where they live. All in all, 14,446,829 doctors’ visits have been performed, including more than 110,390 babies who were delivered by Cuban doctors and 228,238 people who have received operations.
Another milestone was the startup of the Operation Miracle program that provides free corrective eye surgery to those in need. Operation Miracle began in Haiti in 2005 with an extensive medical survey of the population and then in September of the same year, the first patients arrived to Cuba to receive operations.
Today, more than 155,773 Haitians have received free eye surgeries for cataracts and other eye diseases.
Another cornerstone of Cuban medical cooperation in Haiti has been ten comprehensive diagnostic centers that are being built across the country with the support of Venezuela. Three are already functioning and another five will be finished later this year; all of which provide 100 percent free medical services to Haitians.