Cuban doctors are world renowned and have gone to help in many countries facing health or environmental emergencies.
On August 29, 2016, Cuba sent its first shipment of medical supplies, including vaccines, to Syria. Since then, the Cuban government has continued to express its solidarity with the war-torn country.
The first delivery last year was of two tonnes of medical aid under a banking deal made between Havana and Damascus to settle debts Cuban debts.
Ali Hamoud, Syria’s Transport Minister, had at the time thanked Cuba for supporting Syria, and its struggle. The Cuban Ambassador to Damascus Rogerio Manuel Santana Rodriguez had also highlighted the relationship between the two countries.
In December of that year, Havana had sent yet another delivery of medical supplies, this time worth nearly US$1 million. It included vaccines for meningococcal meningitis, after Syria suffered an outbreak of the virus.
And just last month, Cuban officials visited a Syrian military hospital, offering support as they met with medical personnel and wounded patients, including 25 soldiers who had been taking part in the recent fighting in Ein Tarma, near Damascus.
One year ago today, Cuba sent its first shipment of medicines, vaccines, etc. to Syria. The shipments have not stopped. Long live Syria! pic.twitter.com/HWypJh1wbt— José J. Martí (@JoseJuMarti) August 29, 2017
Syria and Cuba "are in the same trench fighting against imperialism and Zionism," the hospital director, Brigadier General Ghassan Haddad had said.
The late leader of Cuba’s Revolution, Fidel Castro, had remained an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad even after he had stepped down from power in 2006.
Following his death in November 2016, Assad had hailed Castro's "legendary resistance" to the blockade imposed by Washington on Cuba.
"The great leader Fidel Castro led his people's and his country's struggle against imperialism and hegemony for decades," Assad had stated, whose own country has faced sanctions by the United States.
Syria is just one part of the world where Cuba has offered its support. Its Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specializing in Disasters and Serious Epidemics has sent medics to many countries facing health or environmental emergencies.
In May of this year, WHO awarded the the team’s work in combatting the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, noting that Cuba had sent more than 250 workers when the crisis peaked in 2015. For their work there, they were also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.
Cuba is also renowned for having one of the world’s best healthcare systems.
The country has also helped to train more than 80,000 doctors across the world for free.