OECS Media Statement
Sunday, June 21, 2020 — The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) expressed its deep appreciation to the Republic of Cuba for the medical support provided to six (6) member countries of the Organisation to assist with efforts to combat the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the OECS and wider Caribbean region.
The provision of specialised health care through the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigades has not only augmented the scarce medical resources of OECS Member States but has provided assurance to the general populations of the region’s capacity to fight and manage COVID-19. Four hundred and seventy-three (473) Cuban medical personnel are working alongside their Caribbean counterparts in eight countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines) to assist in managing the spread of COVID-19.
Cuba’s support to the health sector in the Caribbean has a long and exemplary history that has benefitted numerous Caribbean citizens. One noted invaluable assistance to the region is “Operation Milagro” – a programme which provides free eye medical treatment to OECS nationals requiring interventions to prevent blindness or to restore vision. These conditions include cataract, diabetic retinopathy and other reversible types of visual impairment. The OECS acknowledges with gratitude the extensive global contributions of Cuba, particularly in the fields of health and disaster management, this in spite of its material limitations and the economic hardships resulting from US imposed sanctions.
The Organisation notes with deep concern and repudiates the recent bill introduced by Republican Senator Rick Scott which classifies Cuba’s humanitarian assistance as “human trafficking” and seeks to extend punitive measures against countries accepting this medical assistance.
The OECS Authority greatly values the work of the Henry Reeve Medical Brigades and has reiterated its desire to work with ALL friendly Governments that offer tangible support in the face of the grave existential threat posed to lives and livelihoods in the small island states of the Caribbean.