SANDF welcomes Cuban health professionals to South Africa


The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has welcomed a team of more than 200 Cuban doctors who arrived at Waterkloof Air Force Base on 27 April. The healthcare professionals are deployed to assist South Africans stem the tide of new Coronavirus cases.

These members of the “Medical Brigade” includes family physicians, epidemiologists, biologists, healthcare technology experts, engineering experts, biotechnology experts and other specialists, the SANDF said, adding that South Africa is one of the many countries to benefit from Cuba’s healthcare assistance. In previous cases of crisis, Cuban doctors were the first to arrive in Africa to help fight Ebola.

“In response to the request made by the government of the Republic of South Africa, the government of Cuba has decided to support the great efforts that are currently made by South Africa in containing and arresting the spread of the Coronavirus,” said the Ambassador Rodolfo Benítez Verson during the arrival of the Cuban doctors.

He said the professionals were “carefully selected” and that they possess extensive knowledge of the planning, execution and management of clinical cases and public health response.

“They will be deployed in different provinces of the country in accordance with the strategic plans elaborated by the Department of Health.”

The deployment of the experts will help to flatten the curve quicker, the embassy said.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa had risen to 4 564 as of Sunday 26 April.

In 2019, South Africa and Cuba celebrated 25 years of cordial, mutually beneficial diplomatic relations and constructive cooperation at both bilateral and multilateral levels.

The SA-Cuba Agreement on Cooperation in the Fields of Public Health and Medical Sciences has registered much success, SANews said.

Over 732 South Africans, many from previously disadvantaged communities, received their first five years of medical training in Cuba and have qualified as doctors since the inception of the Nelson Mandela/Fidel Castro medical training programme in 1997.

Many others continue receiving medical training in Cuba and will also provide in the coming years much needed primary healthcare services to their local communities.

“The strong and historic relations between the two countries has seen bilateral agreements and technical cooperation in many areas, including health, human settlements, public works, infrastructure, water resource management, sanitation and basic education, among others.

“The deployment of Cuban doctors, engineers and technical experts in all the provinces of South Africa rendering important services, is a demonstration of the strategic partnership and solidarity between South Africa and Cuba and a good example of South–South cooperation,” the Presidency said in a statement.