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SAFRICA-CUBA-HEALTH-VIRUS Cuban doctors in South Africa  (AFP)

Cuba sends doctors to South Africa to combat coronavirus

Cuba sent 216 healthcare workers to South Africa on Saturday, the latest of more than 20 medical teams it has sent worldwide to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Reuters – Havana, Cuba/  Vatican News - Vatican City

Cuba has sent around 1,200 healthcare workers largely to vulnerable African and Caribbean nations but also to rich European countries such as Italy that have been particularly hard hit by the novel coronavirus.

Community-oriented primary health care is strong in Cuba

Cuba, which has confirmed ,1337 cases of the virus at home and 51 deaths, has one of the world's highest number of doctors per capita and is renowned for its focus on prevention, community-oriented primary health care and preparedness to fight epidemics.

"The advantage of Cuba is that they are a community health model, one that we would like to use," South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told a news briefing earlier this month.

South Africa is among countries with high infections in Africa

South Africa has recorded 4,546 cases, including 87 deaths, with 161,004 people tested for the virus as of Saturday.

The country has a special relationship with Cuba, which supported the fight against apartheid. After Nelson Mandela was freed from prison in 1990, he repeatedly thanked revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

South Africa sent medical supplies to Cuba to assist in the fight against coronavirus in the plane that is now returning with the Cuban medical brigade, Cuba's embassy there wrote on Twitter.

Solidarity and cooperation can defeat the virus

"These are times of solidarity and cooperation. If we act together, we can halt the spread of coronavirus in a faster and more cost-effective manner," Cuba's ambassador to South Africa, Rodolfo Benítez Verson, said in a statement.

Cuba has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites and disease outbreaks around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 leftist revolution. Its doctors were in the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s.

Cuba has more than 37, 000 health care workers in 67 countries worldwide, according to the country's foreign ministry.

27 April 2020, 10:05