Friday, January 15, 2010

"A Sense of Common Humanity" (Part 2)

Cooperation between Cuba and the U.S. has taken a step forward.

White House spokesman Tommy Veitor said yesterday: "We have coordinated with the Cuban government for authorization to fly medical evacuation flights from the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to Miami, through Cuban airspace, cutting 90 minutes off one-way flight time."

According to the New York Times, this was a U.S. request from a Guantanamo Base commander to the Cuban military. Occasional military communication between the two nations are the closest thing to diplomacy we have.

Cooperation and coordination between the two nations will only help the whole relief effort. Currently, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is receiving supplies and equipment for navy ships currently entering Haiti.

In the meantime, a report on the Cuban medical unit inside Haiti has emerged. According to this television report [in Spanish, video below], Cuban doctors have constructed a field hospital outside their home in Port-au-Prince.

One doctor, Rafael Reyes says that they had no other choice because most of the hospitals around the capital are closed or destroyed.

An additional emergency room of Cuban doctors has been opened at an ophthalmology center in Port-au-Prince, which before headquartered the Miracle Mission project, a Cuba-Venezuela initiative providing free eye surgery for the poor.

Inside the center, Dr. Frank Diaz, an orthopedic surgeon, reports that 90% of the injuries arriving are open fractures that require immediate attention. Dr. Diaz also mentions his experience operating in Peru during the aftermath of their earthquakes, but highlights that the injuries in Haiti have been much more severe.

[Photo by Reuters, Sea Hawk helicopters to embark aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson en route to Haiti.]

[BBC Special Reports from Haiti]
[Dr. Paul Farmer on Cuban doctors in Haiti]
[What You Can Do To Help Haiti]

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