Humanity owes a debt to Africa

Comments by Abelardo Moreno, Cuban vice minister of Foreign Relations, during the UN Security Council emergency session on Ebola, September 18, 2014

(Shorthand version – Council of State)

President Chan:

Allow me firstly, to thank the Secretary-General, Dr. Nabarro, Dr. Chan and Mr. Niamah for the information they have imparted, I can assure you that it is extremely useful and necessary to us.

President Chan:

The seriousness of the situation created by the Ebola epidemic plaguing some West and Central African countries creates the need to confront it with energy and with the cooperation of all countries.

In this sprit, Cuba – in response to the request made by UN Secretary-general, the honorable Ban Ki-moon and Director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan – has already begun the process of cooperation under the coordination of the WHO, as Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda from the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Cuba announced last Friday.

This cooperation will enable a medical brigade, whose participants have expressed their willingness to join the fight against this epidemic, to be sent to Sierra Leone. All have more than 15 years of professional experience and have worked in other countries, confronting natural and epidemiological disasters, as well as collaborative medical missions.

We are prepared to work closely with other countries, including those which we do not have diplomatic relations.

Cuba’s response is part of our solidarity with Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the last 55 years we have collaborated in more than 158 countries, with the participation of 325,710 health workers. 76,744 collaborators have worked in 39 African countries. Today, in this sector, 4,048 Cubans are serving in 32 African nations; 2,269 of whom are doctors.

In addition, Cuba, a small and poor country, has to date, trained 38,940 doctors from 121 countries for free. 10,000 foreign students are currently studying medicine on our island, 6000 of which study completely free of charge, under the principal of continuing to help the poorest people, with the cost being borne by those with resources, which helps ensure the sustainability of the Cuban healthcare system and international collaboration.

President Chan:

In this battle against Ebola, which must involve everyone, the Cuban government decided to maintain and extend its cooperation to the countries most affected, which have already been informed.

In the rest of the region unaffected by Ebola and where we have, as I have already said, more than 4,000 health workers, we are ready to assist in the prevention of this disease.

The medical brigades which will be sent to Africa to fight against Ebola form part of the “Henry Reeve International Contingent” – created in 2005 – 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: not to give what we can spare, but to share what we have.

Africa is hoping for an imidiated response from all UN member states, and in particular from those with resources. I urge them to join this global effort against Ebola. Humanity owes a debt to the people of Africa. We can not let them down.

Thank you very much.

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