The Cuban Response to the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa: Lessons in Solidarity

Int J Health Serv. 2017 Jan;47(1):134-149. doi: 10.1177/0020731416681892.


In December 2013 the first case of Ebola appeared in Guinea. In September 2014 the United Nations (UN) and its specialized agency the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a call for medical collaboration in response to the medical crisis and social disaster caused by the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa. Cuban authorities responded immediately to the call by offering specialized help for the epidemic, in collaboration with WHO. A group of 256 Cuban doctors, nurses and other health professionals provided direct care during the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Equatorial Guinea from October 2014 to April 2015. This paper explains the main features of the Cuban health system, describes the development of Cuba's international medical cooperation approach, and highlights the work done by Cuban health collaborators in addressing the damage caused by the Ebola epidemic. Information used includes reports and documents of the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba, reports of WHO and PAHO, and articles published in scientific journals and newspaper articles. The response of the Cuban medical teams to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is only one example of the Cuban efforts to strengthening health care provision in areas of need throughout the world.

Keywords: Cuba; Cuban health system; Cuban medical cooperation; Ebola; Ebola virus disease; West Africa.

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Western / epidemiology
  • Cuba
  • Disaster Planning*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control
  • Humans