By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Jan. 22 — The US government’s Voice of America acknowledged Friday the efforts of more than 400 Cuban doctors and health workers in Haiti.
The move could lead to a collaboration with medicines needed at several field hospitals set up by the Cubans for treating the earthquake victims.
“The massive international relief effort in Haiti has received a boost from Cuba, which has more than 400 health workers, many of them doctors, working throughout the devastated country. The government in Havana has also aided United States relief efforts by opening restricted Cuban airspace to American planes flying medical evacuation missions,” states VOA in an article titled Cuba Aids Haiti Relief.
An unconfirmed report posted by the Miami Herald on Saturday cites a US State Department source as saying Washington “has offered medical supplies to Cuban doctors in earthquake-devastated Haiti, but that the Cubans have not yet formally agreed to accept the aid.”
Havana Times ran a post on Jan. 14th titled “US and Cuba Could Bond for Haiti”, on the earthquake relief effort. “Moving beyond the cold war stasis in US-Cuba relations is a priority of Barack Obama’s administration, and the devastation in Haiti provides a platform to provide relief for a desperate nearby nation and build collaboration between Cuba and the US,” said journalist Steve Clemons in The Guardian.
The Cuban press reported on Saturday that the island’s medical personnel —417 strong— have so far attended more than 18,000 injured Haitians, performing 1,700 surgeries many of a complicated nature. Most of the Cuban doctors were already working in Haiti before the earthquake in a long-term medical collaboration agreement with the local government.
Meanwhile, the United Nations put out a call on Friday for countries to immediately increase their help for the Haiti emergency relief effort as well as for the necessary medium and long range assistance.
Over a half million Haitians who lost their homes are being lodged in hundreds of tent cities. Ministry of Interior sources told AFP that as of Thursday over 111,000 are confirmed dead from the earthquake and at least 193,000 injured.