Ramaphosa welcomes Cuban health professionals in South Africa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday welcomed Cuban health professionals who arrived in Pretoria to support ongoing efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus across South Africa. 

The 217 Cuban health specialists and workers landed in South Africa on Monday, as the country commemorated Freedom Day. 

“Their arrival follows a request made by His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa to His Excellency President Díaz Canel Bermúdez of Cuba. The experts will support efforts being made in South Africa to contain the spread of Covid-19,” the Presidency said in a statement. 

The group consists of experts in the fields of epidemiology, biostatistics, and public health; family physicians to guide interventions through door-to-door testing and to assist local health workers in health promotion and disease surveillance at the community level; healthcare technology engineers to assist in maintaining the inventory, deployment and repair of aged medical equipment; and experts to provide technical assistance working with local experts. 

The Presidency highlighted that last year, South Africa and Cuba celebrated 25 years of cordial, mutually beneficial diplomatic relations and constructive cooperation at both bilateral and multilateral levels. 

“The SA-Cuba Agreement on Cooperation in the Fields of Public Health and Medical Sciences has registered much success. Over 732 South Africans, many from previously disadvantaged communities, received their first five years of medical training in Cuba and have qualified as doctors since the inception of the Nelson Mandela/Fidel Castro medical training programme in 1997,” the Presidency said. 

Members of the SANDF with some of the 217 Cuban health workers who touched down in South Africa to help in the fight against the coronavirus. Picture: GCIS 

Many South Africans are still receiving medical training in Cuba, and they are also expected to provide, in the coming years, much needed primary healthcare services to their South African communities. 

“The strong and historic relations between the two countries has seen bilateral agreements and technical cooperation in many areas, including health, human settlements, public works, infrastructure, water resource management, sanitation and basic education, among others,” said the Presidency. 

“The deployment of Cuban doctors, engineers and technical experts in all the provinces of South Africa rendering important services, is a demonstration of the strategic partnership and solidarity between South Africa and Cuba and a good example of South–South cooperation.” 

On Sunday night, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa stood at 4 546 – an increase of 185 over the previous day’s figure.

The total number of tests conducted to date was 168 643, of which 7 639 were done in the past 24 hours, he said in a statement.

“We regrettably report another [one] Covid-19-related death in the Western Cape, which increases the total number of deaths to 87. We convey condolences to the family and appreciate our frontline workers who treated this patient,” he said.

The provincial breakdown stood at Western Cape with 1 608 confirmed Covid-19 cases; Gauteng has 1 331; KwaZulu-Natal 863; Eastern Cape has 535; Free State has 110; Limpopo has 31; North West has 28; 23 confirmed cases in Mpumalanga; 17 in Northern Cape.

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