Cuban MD Who Recovered from Ebola Returns to Sierra Leone

By Café Fuerte

Dr. Félix Báez Sarría (third from the left) along with  other Cuban colleagues in Sierra Leone.
Dr. Félix Báez Sarría (third from the left) along with other Cuban colleagues in Sierra Leone.

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban medical doctor Felix Baez Sarria has kept his promise and returned to Africa to rejoin the battle against the Ebola outbreak.

Baez, who recovered from Ebola after undergoing specialized treatment in Switzerland, has returned to Sierra Leone to continue combatting the deadly outbreak next to his colleagues, Pichy Vigil Fonseca, member of the Cuban medical contingent in Africa, reported Wednesday.

Two photos of Baez next to other medical doctors in Porto Loko, Sierra Leone, were published in Vigil Fonseca’s Facebook page on January 13. Apparently, both pictures were taken during the first meeting with the medical team Baez took part in after arriving in the country. No additional information about his trip or arrival date was offered.

The 43-year-old Baez had returned to Cuba on December 6, 2014, after being discharged from the Geneva University Hospital, where he was treated and cured.

His first declaration upon arriving in Havana was to ratify his “commitment towards the revolution and the Communist Party” and that he was determined to return to the medical mission.

Finishing What He Started

“I’m going back to Sierra Leone to finish what I started,” he said during a gathering with journalists at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport. And he did.

Baez contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone on November 16 and was urgently relocated to Geneva five days later, suffering from severe gastrointestinal and respiratory problems and a case of severe diarrhea that forced doctors to administer 12 liters of IV fluids a day. At the Geneva University Hospital, he was treated with two experimental drugs (ZMab and Favipiravir), cutting-edge pharmaceuticals that are proving efficacious in the treatment of the disease.

The intensive treatment in Geneva, administered by a team of 40 to 50 doctors, brought about Baez’ gradual and ostensible improvement. The cost of the treatment was covered by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Baez is a specialist in internal medicine employed by Havana’s Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital. He traveled to Sierra Leone for the first time on October 2, 2014, as part of the Henry Reeve International Brigade, dispatched by Cuba in coordination with the WHO, to treat patients infected with the Ebola virus.

Of the 256 medical professionals sent to Africa to combat Ebola, 165 were deployed in Sierra Leone.

2 thoughts on “Cuban MD Who Recovered from Ebola Returns to Sierra Leone

  • I agree with Moses, there will be plenty of credit to go around.

    The Cuban doctors got off to a slow start in Sierra Leone. They did not have the proper equipment or training, but they are doing well now. They are running one of the treatment centers and also treating non-Ebola medical cases in other locations. In the meantime the fight against Ebola has become an international effort with doctors and nurses from around the world. It has not been enough, the donors could and should have reacted sooner, but the battle is now being won.

    Looking ahead theere needs to be a major effort to rebuild the entire medical systems of the three countries. Cuba could be a help there as well if it offers to train new doctors from the area.

  • Both ZMab and Favipiravir are experimental drugs developed by US pharmaceutical firms. What are the odds that Granma has mentioned that in all the self-congratulatory propaganda they have put out surrounding the efforts of this brave Cuban doctor? At this point, giving credit where it is due is less important as long as the Ebola virus continues to be a threat. I hope that history will record that while the Castros have created a medical system ripe for being able to send their medical professionals anywhere in the world, it should be noted that only a “for-profit” pharmaceutical firm has the capital and the motivation to develop these kinds of anti-virals. Did I also mention the hospitals and living quarters these Cuban doctors use? Clearly, once the world has overcome Ebola, there will plenty of credit to around.

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