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Calls for help and reports to the Red Cross: what can be done for Cuba's sick children?

Activists and parents complain of a lack of supplies, specialized medical personnel, and even minimum conditions to treat their ailments.

 Sick Cuban Children whose ailments are not being treated by the Cuban Public Health System.
Sick Cuban Children whose ailments are not being treated by the Cuban Public Health System. Avana De La Torre/Ezequiel Álvarez/Maria Caridad Perez/Diasniurka Salcedo Verdecia/Facebook

Several Cuban minors suffer from diseases for which answers have not been found by the Cuban Public Health system. Activists and parents of the children have reported their cases on social media, complaining about, above all, a lack of supplies, specialized medical personnel, and even minimum conditions to deal with the ailments in question.

A girl's surgery in a Havana hospital is postponed

Case in point: Erika de la Caridad Álvarez Sarduy is a little girl who has been waiting for more than two weeks for neurosurgery at the Juan Manuel Márquez Children's Hospital in Havana, the child's father, Ezequiel Álvarez, reported on Facebook.

"My child has a 2.5-centimeter brain tumor and a cyst along with it, measuring approximately seven centimeters. After two weeks at the hospital, nothing has been done for her because the hospital does not have the necessary equipment or medical personnel. The studies I brought from my province (Villa Clara) are good, and detailed, so it's not necessary to repeat them. All that's missing is the surgery. Please share, and any help is accepted," Álvarez said.

In another post the girl's father clarified that his daughter is not the only one in this situation: "There are children there who have been admitted for more than four months, without solutions to their problems, due to the lack of resources and medical personnel. Many of these parents are content with their children being at the hospital because if they enter a state of emergency they will be operated on. But, why wait until a child who is sick goes into a vegetative state, or it becomes serious, and his life is then hanging by a thread?"

A Bayamo mother demands treatments and supplies for her daughter

Other cases, such as that of Yohaira, an 8-year-old from Bayamo, reveal how the precariousness racking Cuba affects the recovery of patients with multiple conditions. Anne Jorge, the mother of the minor, who suffers from reduced mobility, demanded care for her daughter via Facebook.

"Today I want to ask several questions, although those responsible have no answers. Where is UNICEF? What is the PCC (Communist Party of Cuba) doing? My little girl is only eight years old" and, with so many pathologies, "she has a low quality of life. Don't tell me to keep quiet any longer. As a desperate mother, one who doesn't care about anything that may happen to me, I demand a better life for my Yohi. I demand that my daughter, through physical therapy and the resources she requires, be helped to walk," she said.

"I demand that my Yohi be treated like a human being, and be able to enjoy a breakfast, and snack, like the children of those in power; for them, there's enough of everything. I demand an end to these shortages, for my child's life. And most importantly, I demand the freedom that so many relish, but don't dare demand," concluded the girl's mother.

A bedridden child's condition worsens with the blackouts

Jesús Lázaro Lorenzo Pérez's mother, María Caridad Pérez Díaz, has been waiting for more than eight months for a humanitarian visa to treat the multiple ailments that have her son bed-ridden, and now complains that the blackouts are worsening her sick son's quality of life.

"Jesus is a child who needs air conditioning to live, and the blackouts continue in Cuba. He has an epilepsy that is difficult to control, chronic malnutrition, a horrible deviation of the spine, and he cannot sit up because it (his spine) could break. We need emergency medical assistance. We need a special chair with special accessories that are only available in developed countries," Maria explained in a Facebook post.

In a broadcast that this mother sent via the same social network, she explained how in the midst of the blackouts she had to remove secretions from her son, who was short of breath. "Feel my pain. Down with the dictatorship. Down with Communism. If my name is Mary, Jesús is going to live. Here I have Jesús, strangled by pneumonia, spreading his cold everywhere, in the middle of a blackout," said the mother before starting to remove the spittle from her son with a tube.

Activist calls for help for an orphaned baby

Activist Diasniurka Salcedo Verdecia, meanwhile, asked for help for a baby from Pinar del Río who lost his mother, and now there are no resources to guarantee his care.

"SOS. Please help this orphaned baby. Medications are needed to lower his fever, vitamins, newborn formula, or whatever each person can contribute. The mother's name was Anubis de la Caridad Delgado Acosta, and her baby is Dilan Quintero Delgado. She passed away on September 28 after a cesarean section performed on September 18 at the Abel Santamaría Hospital in Pinar del Río," Salcedo explained.

According to the activist, the woman died of generalized sepsis after the cesarean. "The 27-year-old girl had eclampsia and was inadvertently discharged.  She had an infection that it was later impossible to control. It should be noted that she was taken to the hospital several times because she felt unwell, and they (the doctors) sent her home," Salcedo explained about what could have been a case of medical malpractice.

The child was taken in by his maternal grandmother, Ibis Acosta Olivera, who is now unable to work.  According to the activist, the newborn's father, Alian Quintero, is one of the victims of the last hurricane that hit Pinar del Río. "If you can provide any help, contact his father at +5352538058. My condolences to the family. One more death due to medical 'impotence'," Salcedo concluded.

The cases of five minors submitted to the International Red Cross

Another Cuban activist, Avana de la Torre, apprised the International Red Cross of the cases of five minors on the island whose ailments cannot be cured by the Cuban Public Health system.

"Today, October 10, 2023, I delivered to the Red Cross the five medical cases I took to UNICEF on September 19 of this year. Today I was accompanied by a doctor. What I'm asking for is help, an opportunity for these children who have been forgotten by Cuba's communist health system and by UNICEF Cuba," De la Torre said in a Facebook post.

"We'll continue to fight, relentlessly, denouncing the culprits and knocking on doors so that the children of Cuba can have dignified lives. Thank you, to these five mothers, and to many others who have contacted and trusted me," the activist concluded.

Among the images of the five minors by De la Torre, there were three boys and two girls. One of the latter was Yohaira, the eight-year-old girl from Bayamo.

Many Cuban minors "are vulnerable, are sick, do not have medicine, food, and housing, or have parents in prison. There are children being raised by grandmothers because their parents have had to emigrate in order to support them. There are children in prison.  There are children prostituting themselves, or, at best, selling on the street, or begging," the activist explained.

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