On May 7, 2022, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador visited Cuba to strengthen diplomatic relations with the country. During the visit, health representatives from both countries signed an agreement of cooperation between Mexico’s Health Ministry and Cuba’s Public Health Ministry.
“We signed a cooperation agreement that essentially involves health. We are going to give scholarships so general doctors can go to Cuba to specialize. Also, we are going to acquire the Abdala vaccine that they are producing for children, which has shown great results,” said López Obrador during today’s press conference.
The agreement between both countries, signed by Mexico’s Minister of Health, Jorge Alcocer Varela and Cuba´s Minister of Health José Angel Portal, will promote training, research and medical assistance in different health areas. It also says that Cuba and Mexico will establish a legal framework to develop scientific, technical and academic cooperation.
Meanwhile, López Obrador and Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel strengthened the diplomatic relations between both countries by committing to cooperate in current and future sanitary emergencies. Collaboration between countries is key when facing a pandemic, as having a global common goal helped in the unprecedented fast development of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to WHO.
Cuba was one of the first countries to vaccinate its children. By Feb. 2022, the country had vaccinated over 95 percent of children between two to 18 years old. Over 4 million Abdala doses have been applied to Cuban and Nicaraguan children. During phase III clinical trials, the Abdala vaccine showed a 92.28 percent efficacy rate against symptomatic disease, a 100 percent efficacy in preventing severe systemic disease and death and a 90 percent effectiveness in critically ill patients.
Mexico approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children between 12 to 17 years June 2021 and recently authorized the vaccine for children between five to 11 years old in emergency cases. Children aged 11 and younger will have to wait for the Abdala vaccine to be authorized, a concerning matter to those suffering from risk factors for severe COVID-19. Risk factors include neurologic neurodevelopmental and neuromuscular conditions, obesity, asthma and heart and pulmonary diseases.
During today’s press conference, López Obrador said that his administration will employ 500 doctors from Cuba to guarantee health in Mexico, which is suffering from a lack of health professionals. For example, in Nayarit there is a deficit of 1,629 workers, including 453 general doctors, without which hospitals cannot operate efficiently 24 hours a day, as reported by MBN. The agreement between both countries aims to face the scarcity of doctors in Mexico that is jeopardizing the health coverage that the current administration is seeking, said López Obrador.
“From a long time, Cuba and Mexico, due to the geographical closeness, migration, the language, music, sports, idiosyncrasy and sugarcane cultivation, have maintained authentic brotherhood relationships,” said López Obrador.