The Annual Conference of Norwegian Trade Unions, meeting in Trondheim, Norway, voted unanimously in February to nominate Cuba’s Henry Reeve Brigade of internationalist health care workers for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Henry Reeve Brigade, named for a U.S. born medical doctor who participated in Cuba’s war of independence from Spain in the 19th century, and which was formed in 2005, consists of doctors, nurses and other health care workers who volunteer to provide care in dangerous and unusual emergency situations around the world.
When the Ebola outbreak began in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone in West Africa last year, 461 members of the brigade, trained by the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine in Havana, were quickly sent out to do the extremely dangerous direct face to face work with patients in a region where health care facilities and even basic infrastructure such as roads and communications systems are minimal. Cuba’s role, far out of proportion to the countries small size and modest material resources, has been widely praised worldwide, including by the World Health Organization.
The Henry Reeve Brigade is only a small part of Cuba’s vast system of medical solidarity help to scores of poorer countries.
The Ebola epidemic has infected at least 22,000 people in the three countries, of whom 9,000 have died. At least one of the Cuban Reeve Brigade participants, Dr. Felix Baez, came down with the disease, but has survived. One Cuban administrator died, but of malaria, not Ebola. Currently the epidemic has been beaten down, but could flare up again, either in that area or somewhere else.
Surely there are few entities that are more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize nomination!
Photo: Cuban health worker wearing protective gear. | telesurv