Nepal disaster: Cuba, Venezuela rush in aid, assistance

A Cuban doctor sees a patient in Nepal. Photo by Manarishi Dhital/Facebook.

As Nepal struggles to revive from the catastrophe caused by the April 25 earthquake that registered 7.8 on the Moment Magnitude Scale and its aftershocks, Latin America's socialist governments are busy soothing the wounds of the Nepalese people.

The orange-coloured team of Venezuelan aid workers and white-coloured medical team from Cuba have brought to the people of Nepal the spirit of Argentine-born Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara and Venezuela's late revolutionary president Hugo Chavez.

They are really winning the hearts of the Nepali people: living with them, caring for them and treating them at this difficult time, just as the barefoot doctors did during the time of Che in Latin America.

A 49-member medical team from Cuba and six-member team from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela have come to Nepal and started serving the people from the day they arrived.

Venezuela sent the first team from Latin America, led by the National Director of the Civil Protection Office, Ruben Filippi, and including two forensic engineers and three specialists. The team had visited earthquake hit areas in Makwanpur, Kathmandu, Nuwakot and Sindhupalchowk. They visited a radio station in Palung of Makwanpur district, which was damaged by the quake, while they carried rescue work in other districts.

The team has already returned to Caracas and reported to their government on the situation and Nepal's need for further assistance.

The Nepal-Venezuela Solidarity Network had assisted the Venezuelan team in visiting devastated areas and organising various meetings.

The Cuban medical team, led by Luis Oliveros, comprises 44 men and five women. It has 22 doctors, including three surgeons, two neurologists, two orthopaedists, two anaesthesiologists, one gynaecologist/obstetrician, one paediatrician, one psychiatrist, one epidemiologist, one physiotherapist, eight general physicians and eight nurses.

They have set up their camp in the National Ayurveda Research and Training Centre in Kirtipur, near the capital, and are also organising mobile medical camps in various earthquake hit areas.

More than 1000 earthquake victims have received free medical treatment from their mobile camps in various quake-hit areas in the Kathmandu Valley. The team has already organised camps in Bungmati and Khokana, Lalitpur district, and Balaju and Bhatkepati, Kathmandu district, among other places.

Likewise, the centre is offering many medical services, including medicines, free of cost for the earthquake victims as part of assisting the work of the Cuban team. It has upgraded its operating theatre and expanded the beds taking the number of patients into consideration.

The Cuban medical team has helped upgrade the 10-bed Ayurveda Hospital to 20 beds and carried out more than half-a-dozen major operations during their first four days of service. The team had arrived with 24 tons of medicines, medical equipment and other logistics.

This is the first ever incident of Latin American countries responding to a critical situation in Nepal.

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