US, Cuba pledge cooperation over Haiti health care

 Cuban and US diplomats hailed a "historic opportunity" on Thursday to work together to improve Haiti`s dilapidated health care system.

AFP| Updated: Sep 18, 2015, 08:00 AM IST

Port-au-Prince: Cuban and US diplomats hailed a "historic opportunity" on Thursday to work together to improve Haiti`s dilapidated health care system.

Havana and Washington restored diplomatic ties earlier this year, following a five-decade freeze, and now are looking to take fast-improving relations into the medical field.

"This is providing a historic opportunity after the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba," said Brian Shukan, deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince, as Cuban and US diplomats visited a hospital in the Haitian capital.

"We know Cuba has a long history of medical cooperation in Haiti, a great deal of expertise, hundreds of Cuban doctors have been working here for a tangible improvement."

Speaking during the visit to St. Luke`s Hospital, Cuban Ambassador Ricardo Garcia Napoles said cooperation between his country and the United States was "a natural thing."

A US hospital ship, USNS Comfort, is currently on its fourth mission in Haiti since 2009.

Haiti, one of the western hemisphere`s poorest countries, is still struggling to recover from a catastrophic earthquake in 2010 that leveled parts of Port-au-Prince, killing over 200,000 people.