They've been here for ten months, and now the Henry Reeves Cuban Medical Brigade is finally returning to home. The 59 healthcare workers have been on the frontlines since the very start of the pandemic, working alongside Belizean specialists as well as personnel from the original medical brigade that has been in the country for years.
Now after months of helping Belize fight against the deadly virus, they will be reunited with their families. And while this may cause concern for our health system, which is already under stress, the good news is that another group of healthcare workers will be arriving tomorrow - on the same flight that's taking the Henry Reeves brigade back.
Minister Counselor at the Cuban Embassy, Orestes HernÃ¡ndez said the professionals are more than grateful for the chance to assist Belize, with whom they are celebrating 25 years of diplomatic relations.
Orestes Hernandez, Minister Counselor, Embassy of Cuba
"The challenge is that they came and they left their love ones in Cuba. This pandemic has been a real challenge to the whole world. It's a new experience, it's a new disease. No vaccines, no any other backup that you can imagine. They left Cuba and left their love ones behind with the same challenges that Belize has been facing we have been facing. So it's been a day by day task. Sometime when you are not involve as a medical personnel, sometimes you can't forget. They've been vigilance with Belizean peers to try to help. Last week Cuban Ambassador Perez had an important sessions of meeting with them by zoom with each of them in the place they are based and it was interesting because what they expressed, talking about what they were facing because when you go to a community and then you began to do swabs and then you need to teach the community which is the best way to avoid any kind of situation. So you are risking your life. In the same flight that they are returning to Cuba, another group of Cuban medical persons will be come. It doesn't mean that we will leave Belize isolated. So another group will be coming to be part of the Cuban medical brigade."
This evening, we asked the acting DHS Melissa Diaz for her thoughts on the departing brigade. She said that she is not worried since, apart from the other brigade coming into the country, the Ministry of Health is also hiring more personnel in the form of Community Outreach Technicians and Medical Laboratory Technicians. These person will assist with tasks such as target surveillance and swabbing in rural areas. She said, quote, "hopefully a lot more persons to help with the Covid response."
The Henry Reeves Brigade has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the humanitarian work carried out by the Cuban health personnel in different parts of the world during the Covid-19 pandemic.