Cuban doctors in Bolivia: symbols of the ALBA

Mario Hubert Garrido 

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia, October 15.— Casilda Ramos, a young Bolivian woman who traveled from Sucre to see the Cuban doctors at the Valle Hermoso Hospital in the southern region of Cochabamba, now understands the meaning of the initials: ALBA.  

Your browser may not support display of this image. A congenital deformation in her hands and feet (Polydactyly) led her to Cuban traumatologist Ulises Gómez and from that moment on, her quality of life began to change forever.  

This case is one of the almost 500 that are treated every day at the Comprehensive Community Hospital (HIC) directed by Bárbara Sánchez, a native of the city of Santa Clara. 

For this specialist, there is no better prize than a life saved, an elderly person or child who arrives at the center for intensive care and, after just a few days, leaves by themselves or accompanied by a relative, but in a good state of health.  

Besides that, the greatest recognition can be seen when the first patients return with other relatives and friends to whom they have explained their satisfaction at the quality of service provided.  

In 2009 alone, she emphasized, “we have saved the lives of 396 patients who were suffering from diverse conditions, the most common being acute respiratory problems, skin infections, diabetes, high blood pressure or parasitism.” 

Since its foundation in February 2007, she affirmed, a small collective of doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff, as well as qualified specialists have won the affection of a population that numbers more than 60,000.  

Having previously participated in internationalist missions in Guatemala and Venezuela, Dr. Sánchez explains that it now easier to comprehend the essence of the healthcare programs promoted by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and the commitment of those who are carrying them out.  

The doctor from Villa Clara went on to say that coming from the city that, since 1997, has safeguarded the remains of heroic guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara, who fought and gave his life in Bolivia for noble ideas that were shared by the Cuban Revolution, ennobles their work as healthcare professionals.  

For her part, Maritza Delis, an OR nurse from Mariel who has been on previous missions in Angola and Pakistan, stated that helping those most in need is ALBA’s greatest expression.

Dr. María Isabel Martínez, head of Cuban medical cooperation in Bolivia, also commented that this Friday, when the 7th ALBA Summit opens and mention is made of the integration bloc’s advances, particularly with respect to healthcare programs, Bolivia will be able to proudly mention the almost 31 million medical consultations that have been provided completely free of charge.  

Another achievement, she emphasized, are the 455,000 surgical operations performed on Bolivians, Peruvians, Brazilians, Paraguayans and Argentines who, thanks to Operation Miracle, have recovered their sight at the 15 specialist centers established in that South American nation.  

Another fruit of the ALBA, she indicated, are the 26,000-plus lives saved and the unconditional presence of Cuban internationalist doctors in the nine departments of Bolivia and 96 of its 112 provinces. (PL) 

Translated by Granma International

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