Italy’s health system faces a severe shortage of doctors, especially in specialized fields. Doctors from Cuba are deployed in Calabria to handle the situation. Almost 500 health workers from almost all specialties in Cuba are deployed across all hospitals in Calabria, and 18 of them are deployed in Polistena.
In Italy, since 2021, over 11,000 health workers have left the public health system during the coronavirus pandemic, and it is the first country in Europe to get affected by COVID-19. Many healthcare workers who worked overtime were fined.
Many medical professionals who were stressed retired early, changed to the private sector or moved abroad for better opportunities.
To resolve the issue, Calabria’s regional government asked Cuba to assist them in saving lives during the humanitarian crisis by dispatching medical brigades.
Asbel Diaz Fonseca is a 38-year-old surgeon from Carribean Island deployed with other doctors in Calabria, which is one of the poorest regions in Western Europe. He is originally from Cuba and previously worked at Santa Maria degli Ungheresi Hospital in Polistena, which is a town in southern Italy.
He said that the main principles they learned in their training were solidarity and humanity. He said that they use their skills to help countries that face challenges in the health system. He also said that Italy has both good doctors and the right technology, but it lacks professionals in different specialties.
The Director of Santa Maria degli Ungheresi, Francesca Liotta, said that initially, the Italian health workers had skepticism toward Cuban health workers. But after the Cuban health workers learned the Italian language, they understood their Italian colleagues and brought a fresh wave of energy to the hospital. She said that their enthusiasm was similar to the time when she started her career, but now she is nearing her retirement age. She said that she always says that they are giving us oxygen.
According to ‘The Guardian’, the hospital in Polistena was busy with emergency operations and required modernization. Patients' registrations are delayed due to internet problems in the hospital.
This initiative, taken by Calabria, is effective until 2025. Liotta frets that a long-term cure is needed. She said that there are not enough people entering the public system, and when she looks at young people, she feels that they are prepared well but are exhausted, and the Cubans have helped them revive team spirit, but she worries about what will happen after 2025.
(Input from various sources)