Cuba: Nursing Student with Covid Receives No Healthcare

The nursing student, Irasema Escobedo Herrera, is confined at home with her parents by Covid-19. (Courtesy)

HAVANA TIMES – My name is Irasema Escobedo Herrera, I am 19 years old, I study nursing and I am infected with Covid-19. I write this text in desperation because no medical personnel are following up with my family and we do not have access to medicines. I tried to post my words on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Public Health, but they censored me.

I have nothing to hide, so I accompany this testimony with my personal data and those of my parents. I live on Calle Orlando Gómez 25, between Calle Rafael Trejo and Artimes, in the municipality of Cumanayagua, in the province of Cienfuegos. When I woke up at home on the morning of July 20, I felt a fever and muscle aches.

I guessed that I was infected and went immediately to the Aracelio Rodríguez Castellón Polyclinic in Cumanayagua. But they had no antigen tests or molecular tests (also known as PCR), although there was a list of more than 400 people waiting. As of Sunday, July 18, these materials had not arrived.

To top it off, there was only one doctor treating people who arrived with respiratory symptoms. Only one for an entire municipality. They put me on a list and told me I could go home. The next day I called early to see if the tests had come but nothing yet. On Thursday I made another call and they finally had the tests.

I hurried over and arrived around 8:30 am, and there were already more than 300 people waiting, some having slept on the benches to get a test. As the hours passed, many had to leave without taking the test because the wait was too long. That day there was also only a doctor and one nurse to attend to those suspected of being infected.

Looking at all this, I asked myself “Where are the doctors in my municipality? Where have those hundreds of professionals who graduate annually in my province from the medical and nursing faculties gone? I understood less and less.

Noon passed, three in the afternoon arrived, five o’clock and the line was barely moving forward. There were women with babies in their arms, small children and many old people. Finally, at 5:40 pm they did my rapid antigen test. After me there were only 25 kits left and there were more than a hundred people waiting.

My result was positive and I was taken to a room with more than 30 people crowded together. There were several small children and elderly people, bedridden, and we had to wait to do the PCR test. I was finally able to get the test around 7:30 pm. They also filled out a form with my data and as there was no fuel for the buses or taxis, I had to walk back home.

On Saturday, July 24, the doctor from the medical office stopped by our house. When I asked him if I was going to receive any medicine or medical follow-up, he replied that people who are already vaccinated do not receive any treatment. As a nursing student, I have already received all three doses of Abdala, but my parents have not had access to any. That’s why I couldn’t help but ask the doctor what they were waiting for to give us some kind of assistance. Am I going to die? Is that why they sent me home? To die?

On Sunday, July 25, my PCR test was confirmed positive. They put a sign on the door of my house warning that our house had an infected person. My parents, Maité Herrera Peña, 48 years old; and Omar Escobedo del Sol, 50, began to show the first symptoms of the disease.

On Monday the 26th, the polyclinic was given tests again and a group of doctors arrived at our house looking for a certain “Lázara Escalante Herrera,” while my name is Irasema Escobedo Herrera. I do not understand how they can confuse the name of someone who is positive for Covid in that way. Something like this only shows the lack of the organizational level that exists in confronting this pandemic.

They put my parents on a bus and took them to the polyclinic to carry out the test. Upon arrival, the same image of days ago was repeated: more than 400 people waiting, three hours later the kits ran out and my parents had to return without having been tested. This is how they continue to this day, still not tested, and my father already has a cough and shortness of breath when he goes to bed.

The days have passed and they have not brought us any medicine, although the official media repeat all the time that Cuba is a medical power. What medical power do they speak of, when there is not even a pill to lower a child’s fever? What medical power do they talk about when it is not possible to X-ray a person with Covid-19 pneumonia?

I am studying for a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Medical Sciences of Cienfuegos and I am very disappointed in the whole system and the protocol that is being followed in this pandemic. They cancelled my school vacations and sent me out to investigate possible Covid-19 infections, but they do take care of me and my colleagues. Are we not a priority?

How can they tell me that they are not going to put me on medication because I am not serious yet? Do I need to be seriously ill to receive care? In other words, if I or a member of my family is not about to die, does the country do nothing for us?

On top of that, since we can’t leave the house, we have absolutely no opportunity to go out to buy food, but they haven’t brought us any food supplies either. We have had to survive with some food we have in reserve and the solidarity of neighbors and relatives who leave something for us to eat in the doorway, such as an avocado or a little chicken.

Honestly, I am very disappointed. I urgently need my parents to be given some medication to treat the symptoms. This cannot go on like this. I have decided to write and publish this testimony because to help my family I would do the impossible and much more.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.


6 thoughts on “Cuba: Nursing Student with Covid Receives No Healthcare

  • August 12, 2021 at 8:53 pm
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    Cuba medical supplies and health care was in trouble 5 years ago. I am better off in a homeless shelter than medical personnel in Cuba. My heart ❤️ goes out to all the little people in Cuba. Canada and other countries need to put pressure on the Cuban gov and go in with military forces if needed with medical supplies and equipment now.

  • August 10, 2021 at 2:36 pm
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    Cuba claims to have one medical doctor for every 150 members of its population. The Cuban government has encouraged third world and “socialist” regimes to have medical students trained in Cuba at the much promoted Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM). ELAM claims to have trained over 20,000 doctors from 123 countries since 1998. Students from other countries are given special treatment – for example, they are transported in new yellow Yutong coaches, not in aged trucks. Normally, Cuba has two main sources of revenue, with that from providing medical services to other countries exceeding even that of tourism. When asked about the advantages offered by the communist government, the standard response is “free education and medical services”.

    So, Irasema is receiving the benefits of the free education as a student nurse, but now she and her parents are experiencing the reality of the Cuban medical services. They are also experiencing a shortage of food and those long long lines of Cubans waiting for everything, whether it be a 200 gm loaf of bread or medical attention. Where are the regimes priorities, or are they simply incompetent? It is evident from her article, that Iresema is thinking as an individual. That is where under the communist doctrine, she is in error! For Dr. Ernesto “Che” Guevara defined that clearly when he said: “Youth should learn to think as a mass. To think as an individual is criminal.” Another of her sins is in writing to the Havana Times, which is the modern version of a newspaper, for “Che” also said: “We must do away with all newspapers.”

    A lot of years ago, a book was published entitled: “Cry My Beloved Country”. We can all cry for the people of Cuba in their lovely country with so much potential if liberated from the evils of the communist yoke.

  • August 4, 2021 at 8:32 am
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    So sad to read about the lack of care for any human being in Cuba. Here in the USA Biden is giving away million’s of doses of vaccine to over 40 countries FREE! CUBA has to know this. One stroke of a pen and CUBA could have the vaccine too, if they would agree to be humane to it’s people. People are dying by the day due to lack of medical care worldwide.

  • August 4, 2021 at 7:28 am
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    Sorry for that GOD will protect you.

  • August 3, 2021 at 12:27 pm
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    Cuban Health Care is free, yes if you are fast and can catch it. A Cuban human life is also valued at very little these days.

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