STATEMENT MADE BY Mr. BRUNO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA AT THE HAITI DONORS CONFERENCE. NEW YORK, MARCH 31, 2010
The international community is highly indebted with Haiti, a country that witnessed the first social revolution in the American continent after three centuries of colonialism. That was a daring event for which the colonial powers exacted the price of almost 200 years of military tyrannies and plunder. Haiti’s noble and hardworking people are today the poorest in the western hemisphere.
All of us have the moral obligation to contribute additional financial resources and cooperate more with Haiti, not only to support its reconstruction, but especially its development.
To have an idea of the dimension of the human tragedy in Haiti, it will suffice it to say that the death of 230 000 persons in that small and densely populated nation is tantamount to the death of more than 30 million persons in a country like China, with a population of 1.300 billion inhabitants. It has been indeed an unimaginable tragedy.
After that devastating earthquake that shook humanity’s consciousness, we only hope that the many promises we have listened to could in fact materialize; that Haiti’s independence and sovereignty be respected and ennobled, so that the government of President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive could exercise all its faculties and benefit not the banks or foreign companies, but the Haitian people, especially the poorest.
Generosity and political will are of the essence. We need unity in Haiti, and not projects of doubtful charity or a country split into market segments.
The Program for the Reconstruction and Strengthening of the National Health System in Haiti that the government of that country has designed with the cooperation of the Cuban government, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and other countries and humanitarian agencies will ensure broad health coverage especially for low income people.
This program comprises 101 primary health care centers which are right now being created. It has been estimated that every year 2 800 000 patients could be assisted; 1 300 000 medical emergencies will be taken care of; 168 000 child deliveries will be assisted and 3 million vaccines will be applied.
Added to these, there are the services of 30 community referral hospitals scattered throughout the country, which have been equipped with state-of-the-art technology to guarantee secondary health care. Every year they will be able to offer assistance to 2 154 000 patients and perform 54 000 surgeries; assist one million emergencies; carry out 276 000 electrocardiograms; 144 000 diagnostic ultrasound tests; 43 000 endoscopies; 181 000 X rays; 107 odontological consultations and 487 000 lab tests.
Given the extraordinary number of poly-traumatized patients, 30 rehabilitation wards are being created. In 12 months time, 520 000 patients could be assisted and 2 396 000 different therapies could be offered.
There will also be 3 centers of electro-medicine, one orthopedic prosthesis lab and a comprehensive hygiene and epidemiology program.
Likewise, we plan to create a National Tertiary Health Care Specialties Hospital in Haiti, for which we intend to count on the cooperation of other countries. As many as 80 high level Cuban specialists will be working in these hospitals. They will be in charge of clinical departments and services, research, teaching and training of the Haitian professionals who will progressively replace the Cuban professors.
In four years time the cost of the aforementioned services will reach 690 540 739 US dollars. This total includes the cost of the medical services offered - which have been estimated at half the international prices-; the sustainability of these services and of the staff that will offer those services and the contribution required for the training of another 312 Haitian doctors in Cuba.
The approximate cost of this project amounts to 170 million dollars per year, for a country with a population of about 9 million 332 000 inhabitants.
It is possible to do it. Our practical experience can attest to that. In fact, this Program is already in progress. Since the earthquake, 23 such primary health care centers have been operating, and so is the case for 15 of the community referral hospitals and 21 of the rehabilitation wards.
Soon after the devastation, the Cuban specialists devoted themselves to the assistance of the affected population. So far they have assisted 260 000 patients, they have performed more than 7 000 surgeries, they have attended to almost 1 400 child deliveries and vaccinated almost 100 000 persons. More than 50 000 patients have received rehabilitation and more than 75 000 children have received psycho-social therapy offered by Cuban professionals of high renown.
There are already 783 Cuban doctors working in the program, together with 482 Haitian doctors and 278 specialists from another 28 countries. All of them have graduated in Cuba.
On Saturday last, as part of the aforementioned program, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Port-au-Prince aimed at strengthening the Public Health Services and Epidemiological Surveillance System, thanks to the willingness shown by the Haitian government and the important contribution made by President Lula and Brazil, which will be decisive for the health program that has been envisaged.
In the course of the previous 11 years of work, the Cuban medical brigade had been present in 127 of the 137 Haitian communities, it had saved 233 442 lives, offered more than 14 million consultations, performed 225 000 surgeries, assisted 109 000 child deliveries and recovered or improved the sight of 46 000 Haitians through the Miracle Operation. During this period, 165 000 Haitians were taught how to read and write in Creole.
If we calculate the cost of the medical services offered in these years and the training of the medical staff in Cuba, the total will amount to approximately 400 million dollars.
The medical program that we are proposing will benefit 75 per cent of the population most in need at a minimum cost.
We invite all governments without exception to contribute to this noble effort. We grant a special importance to this conference and we look forward to its success.