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Africa Called, Cuba Answered: Cuba’s Critical Contribution to the Fight against Ebola

- 9:00pm
Tuesday May 19 2015

Venue: Room 1058, Mona Campbell Building, Dalhousie University
Address: 1459 Le Marchant Street Halifax
Cost: Free with donations accepted

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Public Lecture by Dr. José de Jesús Portilla García

The Nova Scotia Cuba Association & the CNC proudly Present:

Africa Called, Cuba Answered: Cuba‚s Critical Contribution to the Fight against Ebola

Free event/donations accepted. All funds raised go to CNC's Cuba for West Africa Fund.

The Nova Scotia Cuba Association is pleased to welcome Dr. José de Jesús Portilla García to Halifax  on Tuesday,  May 19.  Dr. Portilla Garcia is taking part in a nation-wide tour organized by the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) to discuss the invaluable contribution of the Cuban medical brigades to the global fight against Ebola in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Standing side-by-side with the peoples of West Africa, more than 450 Cuban doctors and nurses ˆ chosen from more than 15,000 volunteers - went to West Africa and joined the struggle against Ebola. The Cuban medical mission was by far the largest sent by any country.

As Jorge Lefebre Nicolas, Cuba‚s ambassador to Liberia, declared: „We cannot see our brothers from Africa in difficult times and remain there with our arms folded.‰  At the September 16, 2014 meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Cuban representative Abelardo Moreno declared: „Humanity has a debt to African people. We cannot let them down.‰ Even the Wall Street Journal stated: „Few have heeded the call, but one country has responded in strength: Cuba.‰  

Internationally recognized for their unique and successful model of medical internationalism, with tens of thousands of medical personnel stationed around the globe, Cuba has been at the forefront of disaster medical relief for decades. Always the first to send the most when disaster strikes, including to Indonesia, following the Tsunami and to Haiti and Pakistan following the earthquakes, Cuba consistently punches above its weight when it comes to medical relief work. Come to see why Cuba‚s unique medical brigades are renowned worldwide for their contribution to global health and friendship between nations.

About Dr. Portilla Garcia: Dr. Portilla García has considerable experience in and knowledge of Cuba's medical internationalist missions across the globe. He has had a distinguished career. Highlights include: chief of Cuban medical personnel during Cuba's internationalist mission in the former Republic of Congo (1974) and Angola (1983-85); head of PCC‚s Department of Heath for the province of Havana and director of the Department of Bilateral Collaboration in the Ministry of Public Health.  Currently, he oversees Cuba's medical missions in 15-countries from the Americas to Asia.  Dr. Portilla  García frequently represents Cuba at various international conferences and gatherings.

Join us!  For more information or to get involved contact: isaney@hotmail.com

All Out to End the Criminal Blockade of Cuba
Cuba's Critical Contribution to the Fight Against Ebola

 Cuban Doctor Begins Cross-Canada Tour in Toronto

                                                                                        --TML Weekly, May 16, 2015 --
Africa Called, Cuba Answered -- May 15-30

Dr. José de Jesús Portilla García in Toronto, May 15, 2015.

Torontonians were held spellbound as Dr. José de Jesús Portilla García spoke about the role of Cuban doctors in the fight against Ebola. Dr. Portilla spoke to a packed room at A Different Booklist bookstore on May 15. His tour of several Canadian cities will raise awareness about Cuba's extensive and unprecedented internationalist solidarity with the peoples of Africa, and in particular its recent contribution to addressing the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Cuba was the country that without hesitation sent the largest medical team of over 250 doctors and other medical personal to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone at a time major powers sent military aid instead of medical aid. The speaking tour is organized by the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC).

Elizabeth Hill, Co-Chair of the CNC, explained the speaker's distinguished career as a surgeon, university professor and head of the Department of Health for the province of Havana. He was also involved in a number of Cuban medical missions to Africa including to the former Republic of Congo and Angola.

Dr. Portilla outlined the development of the Cuban health care system since the Cuban revolution in 1959 and highlighted the various indicators such as the remarkable decline of infant mortality from 60 per 1,000 births in 1959 to 4.2 per 1,000 births in 2014. He explained the human-centred health care system that has emerged in Cuba despite the U.S. embargo. In Cuba, the principle that health care in a human right is enshrined in the Constitution and guaranteed by the state. He noted that since the 1960s despite being a poor country Cuba has provided medical assistance to other countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean based on a spirit of internationalism. This is something he is very proud of, Dr. Portilla said.

He then spoke about the Cuban role in the Ebola crisis in 2014 in West Africa. When the crisis broke out, he said, there was reluctance on the part of the U.S. and other western countries to provide timely assistance. Cuba was approached directly by UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon and the head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, who both knew that they could count on Cuba.

Because of its intervention and working in collaboration with medical personnel from other countries and the local health care workers, Cuba was able to assist in bringing down the Ebola mortality rate from 80 per cent to about 20 per cent and give the lie to the disinformation from the monopoly media that somehow Ebola was an uncontainable African scourge. As well, Dr. Portilla explained, Cuba began an intensive training program to teach medical personnel in the affected countries it was working in, as well as Cuban medical professionals back home and in Latin American about what it had learned through its work in West Africa.

This is the story that Dr. Portilla wants to share on his cross-country tour. In the discussion that followed, audience members expressed profound respect and admiration for Cuba's critical role in stabilizing the Ebola crisis in West Africa and its high level of social responsibility and internationalist spirit in carrying out these missions with no selfish motive. It was an example that everyone can learn from, one audience member stated.

Following the discussion, the participants went up to meet Dr. Portilla, to welcome and congratulate him, and wish him great success as he embarks on his tour.

Organizer:Nova Scotia Cuba Association and Canadian Network on Cuba

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