Ebola crisis: Cuba sends doctors, US sends troops

Cuba said it will send nearly 300 more doctors and nurses to West Africa to help fight the Ebola epidemic, Al Jazeera reported on September 26.

The Cubans will work in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, Regla Angulo, head of the Cuban medical relief agency said in a statement that day. Al Jazeera said: “The announcement means that up to 461 Cuban medical personnel would have been sent to help address the epidemic spreading across West Africa.

“Cuba's decision comes as health experts from 16 European countries urged their governments to massively scale up manpower and resources to fight the Ebola epidemic, now threatening 'the entire world'.”

Meanwhile, the United States has responded to the crisis by escalating US military presence in the region. President Barack Obama announced on September 16 that the US would deploy 3000 soldiers to the affected West African states to combat the disease.

Workers.org pointed out on September 25: “Washington is already involved militarily in Africa. Several thousand Pentagon troops, Central Intelligence Agency operatives and State Department functionaries are there with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

“This intervention since 2008 has created more instability and underdevelopment in Africa — in Egypt, Mali, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria — where the ostensible partnerships aimed at curbing 'terrorism' have intensified conflict, dislocation and famine in the Horn of Africa.”

Obama said: “The United States will leverage the unique capabilities of the U.S. military and broader uniformed services to help bring the epidemic under control. These efforts will entail command and control, logistics expertise, training, and engineering support.”

On the other hand, Granma.cu reported on September 19 that Cuba’s Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Abelardo Moreno told the UN Security Council emergency session on Ebola the day before: “Cuba’s response is part of our solidarity with Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean … Today, in this sector, 4,048 Cubans are serving in 32 African nations; 2,269 of whom are doctors.”

Moreno said: “The medical brigades [going] to Africa to fight against Ebola form part of the ‘Henry Reeve International Contingent,’ created in 2005. [It is] composed of doctors specializing in combating disasters and large-scale epidemics.

“Cuba’s response confirms the values of solidarity which have guided the Cuban Revolution … to share what we have.”

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