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Gambia bids farewell to 71 Cuban Doctors

Mar 21, 2012, 12:11 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

The Cuban Embassy in The Gambia and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW) on Friday at the School of Medicine and Alliance Science campus on Marina Parade in Banjul bade farewell to 71 Cuban medical doctors have served in the country.

The departing doctors have served at various governments’ health facilities across the country for 28 months.

In her farewell speech before the departing doctors, the Cuban Ambassador to The Gambia, Her Excellency Ines Fors Fernandez, said: “Every day I have the opportunity to read a lot about what Cuba is doing for the Third World countries.

“It makes me happy but at the same time it makes me more proud of being a Cuban and recently I was reading about The Cuban Medical Brigade working in Haiti, who was nominated to the 2012 Prince of Asturias Prize on International Cooperation for its intense and selfless humanitarian work in that country.”

According to Ambassador Fernandez, in 2006, the Cuban Medical Mission to The Gambia was awarded the insignia of Grand Officer of the National Order of The Republic of The Gambia.

“Being a doctor is like opening a door to a long road leading to the noblest action that a human being can do for others, while statistics speak of developed countries with child mortality rates lower than 10 for 1000 life births, and some boast of a life expectancy that reaches or surpasses 80 years of age; others, such as many African countries have to settle for child mortality rates of over 100 for children under one year of age and often 150 for 1000 life births, and a decreasing life expectancy rate that in some countries fluctuates between 30 and 40 years of age,” she stated.

She also said that neither the climate nor genetic potential are causing this tragedy in Cuba.  Cuba, a tropical country, with a hot and humid climate, subjected to a cruel blockade and economic war for half a century has, despite all this, an infant mortality rate of less than 5 for 1000 life births under one year of age, a rate that falls just below that of Canada.

“Our concept of the human condition of the peoples and the duty of brotherhood and solidarity has never been, nor will they ever be, betrayed,” Ambassador Fernandez added, noting that tens of thousands of Cuban doctors and healthcare professionals stationed around the world are irrefutable proof of what Cuba has done.

For them, the ambassador noted, there will never be any language barriers, sacrifice, danger or obstacles; thus it is now 51 years since Cuba sent its first brigade to Algeria.

Currently, she went on, there are almost 37,000 Cuban health professionals working in 70 countries under various modalities of cooperation.

“We do not help others with what we have in surplus, but we share with them what we have and at this moment our homeland is working on extremely important matters for the future of the nation and Cuba is still facing challenges and dangers but no difficulty has ever bent our spirit,” she said. 

She added that their main weapons continue to be the dignity, the integrity, the courage, the ideological strength, the revolutionary spirit and the sacrifice of the Cuban people, which since long ago has embraced the concept that socialism is the only guarantee to continue to be free and independent.

Speaking at the farewell ceremony, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health, Yaya Sireh Jallow, who deputised Health Minister Fatim Badjie at the ceremony, thanked the outgoing Cuban doctors on behalf of the Government and the people of The Gambia in appreciation of the hard work and commitment they have demonstrated.

“The people of The Gambia are proud of the services that we received from the tireless efforts of the Cuban doctors in the past years,” PS Jallow said. “You served rural communities, towns, cities without complaints with a meagre support but you gave out your best to the satisfaction of the communities you served.”