A Cuban doctor contracted Ebola in Sierrra Leone. He will be flown to Genova, Switzerland in the next 48 hours for hospitalization, Swiss authorities have said on Wednesday. The man is the first Cuban to have contracted the deadly disease.
The 43 year old doctor named Felix Baez is one of 165 Cuban doctors and nurses relocated in Sierra Leone since early October. They were sent to West Africa to treat patients in the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded to this day.
According to a Health Ministry statement, Mr Baez had a fever on Sunday, and tested positive for Ebola on Monday. Now he is “hemodynamically stable” and shows no signs of complications.
The man is currently hospitalized in a Red Cross center near the Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.
“He’s not critical, he’s doing well, in a good condition. The most important thing now is to get him evacuated to Geneva pretty soon,” Mr Baez’s chief, Dr Jorge Delgado Butillo, recently told reporters.
International community showed high praise for Cuba’s commitment to treat Ebola patients in West Africa. Its contribution was more substantial than any other coming from wealthier world nations. Even the US, Cuba’s most redoubtable political adversary in the past 55 years, appreciated its efforts.
Cuba has been practicing medical diplomacy since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. When not working free of charge, Cuba also exchanges doctors for cash or goods with other countries. The ex-communist island receives about 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Venezuela, where approximately 30,000 Cuban medical professionals are camped.
In all, there are more than 50,000 Cuban health workers in 67 countries.
The latest WHO report on November 14 counted 5,177 Ebola deaths out of 14,133 cases, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. These countries at the epicenter of the outbreak are among the world’s poorest nations with primitive health system and infrastructure.
The UN believes that the lack of lavatories in the region is a possible cause for the rapid proliferation of the highly contagious disease. Liberia is the country worst hit by the epidemic and half of its population lacks lavatories, while in Sierra Leone nearly a third of the population lives without latrines, a UN report showed on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf gave a report about her country’s current state and reassured the public that her government has the upper hand in the fight against Ebola, but warned against complacency or any reduction in international support.