Havana, Cuba.- The Cuban Medical Brigade that has been providing medical aid to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) since 1978 in the Refugee Camps in Tindouf, Algeria, is working in the desert area of Hamada (lit. ‘hell’), in the Sahara.

Currently made up of 13 specialists (nine doctors, three nursing graduates and one EKG specialist), the Cuban health personnel provide medical care for 263,000 inhabitants, according to data from the United Nations Refugee Agency, in five camps distributed in five provinces, in a very arid and sandy area of the Western Sahara

‘Our main function in the camps is to provide medical care to the refugees, which we carry out mainly at the Martir Brahim Saled National Hospital,’ Dr. Hector Aurelio Mendez, head of the Brigade, wrote in an email to Prensa Latina.

Mendez explained they have adopted protection and safety measures to prevent contagion and spread of the coronavirus.

The doctor, who has vast experience in internationalist cooperation in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Venezuela, and now in the SADR, wrote that in addition ‘we went to prepare conditions of the premises assigned for the isolation and care of the patients who might become infected.’

Mendez answered a question about the situation of the epidemic in the camps saying that ‘luckily, we have no cases so far’, and they are carrying out the training regularly, in order to keep both aid workers and the Sahrawis updated.

In addition to attending the Covid-19 emergency situation, the Cuban Medical Brigade has been fulfilling the ‘very important’ task of training the first specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine in the camps since last year.

This task is shared by ‘the faculty of Brigade professors and three Saharawi specialists who joined’, and it is chaired by the Postgraduate Department of the Cuban Ministry of Health and the Medical University of Havana.