Leader of the Opposition and Third District Representative

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Leader of the Opposition and Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser has
questioned whether or not the Brigade of Cuban doctors that first arrived in 2020 has
benefited the Territory. Hon. Fraser’s question on this matter was in reference to the
examination of the Supplementary Appropriation Provision (SAP) in the House of
Assembly on 7 June.
The first cohort of Cuban doctors arrived in the Territory back in July, 2020 to assist
with the BVI’s COVID 19 response. The team of 22 medical professionals including
internist doctors, emergency response doctors, intensive care specialist and nurses
and those trained in infectious diseases arrived in the Territory on 25 July to assist
with providing medical services.
During last week’s continued House of Assembly sitting Hon. Fraser explained that his
question is based on the fact that the 2022 programme allocated money towards the
Cuban brigade payment. The Leader of the Opposition told the House of Assembly,
“The people need to know and I need to know Madam Speaker so I am asking the
Minister to come to this Honourable House and explain to us what the Cubans have
done. What they are doing and what plans we have for them going forward if we are
going to be expending more funds to the programme.”
“Madam Speaker, I have heard about these Cubans who are here in the Territory
working in our healthcare services and Madam Speaker whatever assistance we get we
are grateful for especially during that period of COVID,” he added.
A response to this question was provided by Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the
Hon. Natalio Wheatley who stated that the Cuban brigade provides needed medical
support to the Territory. Hon. Wheatley stated, “I am sure you will hear more about
this from the Minister in due course. I have been told that there have been challenges
in terms of the staffing because of lucrative opportunities elsewhere, but the Cuban
brigade has been able to fill a gap.”
A previous update on the doctors was provided by last year by former Minister for
Natural Resources Labour and Immigration Hon. Vincent Wheatley. Hon. Wheatley
who was at the time speaking at a public meeting disclosed that the Cuban doctors
were an essential part of the COVID response; and he noted that even as the spike in
cases decreased, there was still a need for the service.
The former Minister said, “Still being depended on, the Cubans who have come to
help us with COVID 19…We must thank these Cubans. I was shocked today to learn
that these doctors who are here they have families back home. They left their wives,
husbands, and kids to come here to be with us.”
The arrival of the doctors was as a result of the Republic of Cuba’s response to the
request of the Government of the British Virgin Islands. The BVI Government had
requested that the Republic of Cuba assist by providing the team of professionals to
aid COVID 19 relief.
The Republic of Cuba has had a long history of supporting countries in times of
disaster and managing with infectious diseases. In 2014, concerns over the spread of
Ebola threatened the world; the Territory in collaboration with the Organisation of
Eastern Caribbean States was able to send personnel from the Ministry of Health to
Cuba for training.

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