By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, LONDON, England, Tues. Oct. 28, 2014: There are now 250 Cuban medical doctors and nurses on the front line of the Ebola crisis in Africa and none have so far contracted the virus. But today, one of those volunteers will be buried not from a battle with the deadly virus but from malaria.
Jorge Juan Guerra Rodriguez, 60, who according to Cuban officials, was working as an administrator with a team of Cuban medical personnel sent to Guinea this month to stem the spread of the virus. But he died of cerebral malaria on Sunday.
Both ailments have similar symptoms, including fever, aches, vomiting and diarrhea. While Ebola is passed by contact with bodily fluids, malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes.
The economist, from Sancti Spiritus in central Cuba, traveled to Guinea on October 6 and began showing signs of illness on October 22.
“He will be buried here in Conakry on Tuesday, in accordance with the instructions of the Cuban foreign minister,” a Guinean official was quoted by the AFP as saying Monday.
“In the early morning hours (of Sunday) … his health was worsening, and eventually he suffered multi-organ failure and died in the afternoon,” Cuba’s health ministry added.
Cuba plans to ramp up the number of medical personnel in West Africa soon to 450. Some 165 alone have already been sent to Sierra Leone.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50 more are soon to follow. Some 15,000 volunteers from the Caribbean island are said to have signed up for duty to fight Ebola.
Both Margaret Chan, the WHO’s general secretary, and the “Ebola czar” for the United Nations, David Nabarro, have personally thanked President Raul Castro and his health minister Robert Morales for their support and even the United States has praised Cuba’s actions.
Cuba’s response to the Ebola epidemic has won plaudits praise from humanitarian workers globally who say the international community’s reaction has been lacking.
The Ebola virus has already killed more than 4,900 people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.