Open letter from ACFS to Stephen Smith re Haiti  



PO BOX 1455   SOUTH PERTH   WA   6951

28th January 2010

                 Open Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Stephen Smith

PO Box 6022                                                        PO Box 901
House of Representatives                                       Inglewood WA 6932
Parliament House           
Canberra ACT 2600

To the Honourable Stephen Smith

We write with a letter of request for you to consider sending financial assistance from Australia to supply medicines and medical supplies to the Cuban doctors in Haiti.

We believe this is the best way to deliver aid effectively to Haiti.  Cuban doctors already have 11 solid years of helping Haiti with doctors and health professionals. After the earthquake they were there first, setting up a hospital beside the collapsed national hospital.

By noon on day 2 more medical teams arrived from Cuba and currently there are around 400 doctors and nurses and other technicians in eight separate field hospitals. Already over 13400 consultations, 1070 surgical interventions of which 550 were considered major surgeries have been performed and the need is ongoing with secondary infections and gangrene now appearing.

The U.S. blockade on Cuba impacts greatly on the cost of medical supplies to the Cuban doctors and despite this Cuba continues to supply free medical aid – the Cuban government funds the personnel – on a scale unmatched even by the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières.

The earthquakes in the Kashmir region of Pakistan in 2005 illustrates well the extent of this assistance when Cuban doctors were the only attending medical teams that set up field hospitals in the most hard to reach areas to the north. Often the most seriously ill patients are transported to Cuba for treatment including Vietnamese Kim Phuc, the little girl shown in the famous war photograph running naked along a road, her skin burned by napalm and some 19,000 adults and children from the three Soviet republics most affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident of 1986

The Norwegian Embassy in Cuba has signed an agreement with the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment (MINCEX) to donate five million Norwegian crowns (approximately US $885,000) as emergency aid to the Haitian people. The money will be used to buy and send medical equipment and supplies to the Cuban Health Brigade working in Haiti.

We strongly encourage you to follow the example of Norway and make a contribution from Australia.


Elizabeth Hulm
Branch Secretary
0421 113 343

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