Cuban doctors land in Azerbaijan to help fight COVID-19

Over 100 medical professionals from the Henry Reeve Brigade arrived in Azerbaijan on Monday. The brigade, founded by Fidel Castro in 2005, has worked in more than 25 countries during the COVID-19 pandemic

July 14, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Cuban doctors leave for Azerbaijan
Cuban doctors leave Havana for Azerbaijan to help its government fight the COVID-19 crisis. (Photo: Foreign Ministry of Cuba)

Over 100 Cuban medical professionals from the Henry Reeve Brigade landed in Azerbaijan on July 13, Monday, to help handle the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

Azerbaijan, a country of nearly 10 million people in central Asia, has recorded over 24,000 COVID-19 cases, with 306 deaths so far. It has witnessed a sharp spike in infections since the last week of June. Over 500 fresh cases were recorded on July 12 alone.

Azerbaijan recorded its first COVID-19 case on February 28, leading the authorities to impose a lockdown from March 14. The lockdown measures were gradually lifted in April and May. However, since late June, the fresh spike in cases has forced the state to re-impose the restrictions.  

Hikmet Hajiyev, an aide of president Ilham Aliyev, told the local media that in addition to China, “experts from Cuba are expected to arrive in the country. Because this country [Cuba] has an excellent health care system, known all over the world, as well as experts who coped perfectly with the outbreak with Ebola pandemic” AzerNews reported on July 10. 

Based on the idea of socialist internationalism, the Cuban Henry Reeve Bridge, named after a hero of Cuban war of liberation, was founded by Fidel Castro in 2005. It has served in various countries during health crises, wars and natural disasters, including the Ebola pandemic and 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. The doctors and medical professionals working with the brigade also train local residents for such eventualities during their work.    

Thousands of medical professionals from the Henry Reeve Brigade are currently working in more than 25 countries across the world to help their governments handle the COVID-19 pandemic. The medical professionals have been on the frontlines in some of the worst-affected countries such as Italy. They are working in all the regions of the world, including Europe, West Asia, Caribbean and Central and Latin America.

The work of the Henry Reeve Brigade has been praised globally. It also received the Dr. Lee Jong Wook Memorial Prize for Public Health from the WHO in 2017 for its contributions during the Ebola pandemic in West Africa. Acknowledging its contributions in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, various groups and people have begun a campaign demanding the Nobel Peace Prize for the brigade.