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Sihle Zikalala calls on KZN to show 'great hospitality' to Cuban doctors

21 May 2020 - 10:36 By Nivashni Nair
Premier Sihle Zikalala and KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu welcome 28 Cuban doctors to the province.
Premier Sihle Zikalala and KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu welcome 28 Cuban doctors to the province.
Image: supplied

Premier Sihle Zikalala has called on the people of KwaZulu-Natal to show “great hospitality” to the 28 Cuban doctors deployed in the province to help fight Covid-19.

“We call on all the people of KwaZulu-Natal to show the great hospitality that they are known for. And we call on them once more to know that without their co-operation and discipline, we will not overcome this enemy,” he said.

Zikalala was speaking in Hilton, outside Pietermaritzburg, where he welcomed the doctors to the province.

The medics are part of a group of more than 200 Cubans who arrived in SA to fight the deadly virus. Zikalala said they  would be deployed throughout the province.

“We know that whether you are working in a hut in rural Msinga or a clinic in an informal settlement or at Pixley ka Isaka Seme Hospital, that in every corner of our province you will feel at home. We know that in all the patients that you will treat, or people you will test, you will see yourselves in them, you will see their hopes and dreams. We know that your reward and fulfilment will be to save as many lives as possible.

“South Africa and our province cannot repay your efforts and sacrifices. We can only express our sincere gratitude for choosing to join our people in this fight against a virus that seeks to undermine all the gains we have achieved together over many decades,” he said.

The KwaZulu-Natal Government is this morning welcoming the Cuban doctors that have been deployed to the province to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Posted by KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

KwaZulu-Natal MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said the doctors will be deployed to iLembe, eThekwini and uMgungundlovu as these districts have the highest infection rate in the province.

Cuban doctor Hernan Zaldivar said the warm welcome KwaZulu-Natal gave the doctors was “spectacular”.

“It's a real honour being here. We feel as we are part of the family. The people of KwaZulu-Natal can count on us for medical care and everything that they need. We will work with our hearts. We will work harder. It doesn’t matter the place or weather, we will be providing the medical care for everyone.”

Zikalala added that SA would help Cuba in its battle for fair trade.

“We must also say, the world must be different after Covid-19. Together we must fight for quality universal health care, for the reform of the UN Security Council, and for fair trade, including the end of the embargo against Cuba.”

The South African Communist Party applauded the government for bringing the Cubans to SA.

“We believe that working with these Cuban doctors, our provincial government will not only allocate them districts and localities where they will be deployed, but they will also form a critical resource and advice to the provincial coronavirus command centre (PCCC), which will allow all the critical voices to add value in our fight against the pandemic. We support the Cuba-South Africa relations against the onslaught and interference of the US undermining Cuban right to self-determination.

“We applaud the government for continuing to strengthen the long-established ties between our people. We welcome the Cuban doctors and know our communities will embrace them as they have for decades all over KwaZulu-Natal and the country at large,” said SACP provincial spokesperson Sifiso Gwala.