The South African government will nominate the Cuban Medical Brigade for the Nobel Peace Prize following its assistance in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
The development was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on Monday night.
“In recognition of this effort, the South African Cabinet has approved a proposal to nominate the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specialised in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics – or as they commonly are known, the Cuban Medical Brigade – for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize,” said the President.
When the country experienced a rise in COVID-19 infections in April last year, 217 Cuban doctors from various disciplines arrived to aid in the fight against the virus.
The brigade was then divided into groups and deployed to regions across the country.
The President described the intervention as a “selfless” and “unwavering assistance” by the government and people of Cuba.
“True to its history, this small island nation has demonstrated solidarity with the hardest hit countries and sent more than 3 700 Cubans throughout the world to assist in the fight against COVID-19,” he said.
In Africa alone, the brigade had treated more than 38 000 people by the end of November 2020.
They are currently still active in many countries, including here in South Africa.
“We extend our sincerest gratitude to the people of Cuba for this great demonstration of solidarity and humanity. Like so many people around the world, we have suffered tremendous loss and endured great sacrifices.
Our lives have changed in profound ways, and we have been forced to adapt to a new and difficult circumstance,” said the President.
He hailed as heroic the “tireless” and “brave” efforts of the country’s healthcare workers, scientists and all frontline workers.
“[With] the determination of each and every South African, we can finally imagine a world where the virus has been brought under control. It is up to all of us to bring that world into being,” said President Ramaphosa.