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In 'Medical Diplomacy,' Cuban sends 300 MORE Doctors to Fight Ebola

Oct 2, 2014

The deadly Ebola epidemic in West Africa has taken over 6,000 lives in a short few months. The West has been slow to respond and the media is painting the US government in the lead of relief efforts after they announced sending 3,000 military troops to fight the outbreak (yes, military troops). The US is also deploying drones to fight the outbreak (don't ask) through data mining. Europe is also struggling to respond.

By contrast, the tiny impovershed Caribbean island of Cuba is sending 300 additional medical professionals to West Africa. Additional, as in to supplement the 162 they have already sent.

It has been difficult to assertain exactly how many doctors the US is sending, but they have committed to 'staff' a 25 bed hospital (Cuba's contingent can staff a 100 bed hospital) and train 500 West Africans to fight the disease, a claim that has been met with international skepticism.

The move is part of Cuba's 'Medical Diplomacy' and part of the effort to establish Cuba as a 'Medical Superpower.' The small island nation has mobilized a considerable portion of it's resources towards building a infrastructure that not only provides free medical services to her citizens and trains foreign medical students for free (including an annual contingent from low income communities in the US. Their contract requires the new doctors to commit to a certain number of years providing care for low-income people), but also sends medical professionals across the world. Cuba currently has more than 50,000 of it's doctors on mission around the world.

For a proportionate comparison, Cuba, with a population of 11 million is sending 462 medical professionals to fight Ebola. If the US, with a population of over 300 million were to send a proportionate number, that number would be 12,600medical professionals,

The stark difference- exporting doctors vs. exporting military troops and drones- is one practical prism through which to understand the difference between a capitalist economy and a socialist economy. This is not to suggest that all Cuban doctors work for free around the world, but they type of exports provided, e.g., life giving vs. life taking and empire building, are important to deliniate.

Perhaps that is exactly why the US media and Western governments are actively refusing to recognize Cuba's international leadership in this issue.

Stories on the subject:

Al Jazeera

Business Insider