Cuba-Sri Lanka relationship is a historic one. It has mutually benefited both nations in the last few decades. Sri Lanka is one of the first Asian countries to establish bilateral relations with Cuba. Our guest today is Juana Elena Ramos Rodriguez, Cuban Ambassador designated to Sri Lanka and Maldives. She sat with Nilantha Ilangamuwa former editor of Sri Lanka Guardian at her residence in Colombo to talk about the bilateral relationship between Sri Lanka and Cuba, the Cuban public health system and challenges in post-COVID-19 society.
The Ambassador highlights among the main achievements of health in Cuba, the low infant mortality rate (less than five per thousand live births); the elimination of 14 infectious diseases in the national territory; the high life expectancy that exists, and the elimination of vertical mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis, a result that places Cuba as the first country in the world to achieve this.
Also, the Ambassador emphasized that the unjust blockade imposed by the United States on our country is the only limitation to achieving even more effective results in the field of health. The blockade poses extraordinary pressure on Cuba to guarantee the material supplies and equipment that support the public health system and the specific conditions to face the COVID 19 pandemic.
During the interview, the solidarity and humanistic work of Cuban medicine is highlighted. From 1963 to the present, more than 400 thousand health professionals have been present in 164 countries on all continents. In addition, in Cuba, 35 thousand 613 health professionals from 138 countries have been trained free of charge. In this regard, it was highlighted that the positive balance for the lives of millions of people in tens of thousands of communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean of ELAM, is unquestionable.
Likewise, Cuba has made an outstanding contribution to the fight against COVID in various parts of the world. In recent weeks, our country has responded to requests for cooperation without stopping to evaluate political coincidences or economic advantages. So far, 34 brigades of health professionals have been assigned to join the national and local effort of 26 countries, adding to or reinforcing medical collaboration brigades in 60 nations, which have joined the effort to combat this disease where they already provided services.
In this regard, the Ambassador expresses her rejection of the United States attempts to link Cuba’s international cooperation in the field of health with human trafficking or the practice of slavery. These actions are intended to denigrate the meritorious work that hundreds of thousands of Cuban health professionals and technicians have voluntarily carried out and have carried out throughout history in various countries, particularly in the Third World.
The Ambassador states that such actions are an attack against a solidarity effort that has received the recognition of the international community and the specific praise of the highest executives of the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization.