Medical Appeal reaches £124,000 - Donations still saving lives
Campaign News | Tuesday, 11 January 2022
Thank you to everyone who has supported CSC’s COVID-19 medical appeals over the last two years. Your support has without doubt saved lives in Cuba
The latest consignment of life-saving aid from CSC’s COVID-19 Medical Appeal was delivered to Cuba in late 2021. Just over £29,000 of the £124,000 raised in the last nine months has been used to purchase specialist electronic components. The parts are used in the production of ventilators designed and built in Cuba to treat COVID-19 patients.
The ventilators are built by Cuba’s Neuroscience Centre (CNEURO), whose Director of Production Antonio Fernández Mastrapa spoke to CSC about the importance of the donation to the work they do.
CNEURO has changed the focus of its work during the pandemic to respond to the medical needs of the country. The organisation used open-source designs from MIT and University College London to design and build their own ventilators, which have been used throughout Cuba with patients hospitalised by COVID-19. Many of the specialist parts had to be imported, and the donation from the CSC appeal paid for electronic components without which “the manufacture of the ventilators would have been impossible,” said Fernández.
A total of 205 ventilators have been built and delivered to the Cuban health service, and in January 2022 a further 45 were in production. They are used by patients with COVID-19 in hospitals and isolation centres.
Fernández estimates that the ventilators have saved thousands of lives and will continue to do so.
“Patients benefited and are still benefiting,” he said, and the ventilators have been used “at critical times during the pandemic and represent a great contribution to saving lives and reducing the adverse effect that the disease causes.”
Since CSC’s appeal was launched in April 2021, four other consignments of medical aid have been sent including syringes, specialist vacutainers for blood sampling, muscle relaxant to treat seriously ill patients, serums and compounds to manufacture medicines, and cryotubes which were used in the trials of the Abdala vaccine in adolescents and children. As of 26 January, Cuba had fully vaccinated more than 87 per cent of its population, including children over two years old.
The appeal has also drawn attention to the extraterritorial nature of the US blockade. Each purchase was subject to obstacles and delays when attempting to transfer payments to international suppliers for these vital items.
The £124,000 raised in nine months of the 2021 COVID-19 Appeal is in addition to CSC’s 2020 Emergency Medical Appeal, which raised a further £29,000 to help Cuban health workers respond to COVID-19 by providing PPE and medical aid.
In October 2021, CSC received a letter of thanks from the Cuban ambassador Bárbara Montalvo Álvarez. “I value that behind every pound, there is a beating heart, full of justice and love for Cuba. It is indeed a wonderful expression of solidarity and friendship,” she wrote.
In May, Vice Foreign Minister Ana Teresita Gonzalez Fraga also sent a letter of thanks for the purchase of medicines used to treat COVID-19 patients on the island.
CSC would like to thank all the individuals, local groups, trade union branches and organisations which have supported our COVID-19 medical appeals over the last two years. Your support has without doubt saved lives in Cuba.