In a tragedy as great as Haiti’s, there is no room for political cards to be played. All aid-givers should be cooperating to save as many lives as possible. They also should share resources to the greatest extent possible, as well as integrate their medical resources and patients. The present tragedy gives both the US and Cuba an opportunity to work together, thereby harvesting the benefits of medical diplomacy through a rational integration of their respective health service resources. This cooperation between Cuba and Washington would increase aid to Haitian victims while improving their own bilateral relations. Wouldn’t it be a constructive moment if the Cuban medical teams, which have been on the ground in Haiti for many years, and the now newly arriving US medical teams could work together? This would allow them to share their practical knowledge, procedures and supplies to save more Haitian lives today, and later jointly assist the island authorities in constructing their own viable health care system capable of responding to future natural disasters.
Julie Feinsilver is a COHA Senior Research Fellow and a Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University’s Center for Latin American Studies. She is writing a new book tentatively titled Medical Diplomacy: Fifty Years of Cuba’s Soft Power Politics, and has conducted research on Cuban medical diplomacy since 1979. Dr. Feinsilver is the author of the book, Healing the Masses: Cuban Health Politics At Home and Abroad (University of California Press, 1993), as well as numerous articles and book chapters on Cuba dealing with medical issues.
Dr. Feinsilver earned a Ph.D. in sociology at Yale University (1989) and taught Latin American politics at Wesleyan University and number of other institutions.