Friday 13 November 2020
Time: 7.30 – 9.45pm
World Premiere of Luz Y Esperanza / Light and Hope – a special response to Covid-19 from one of Cuba’s greatest artists Samuel Formell, directed by Alejandro Valera Losa
Cuba and COVID19: Public Health, Science and Solidarity – DaniFilms / Cuba-UK / 2020
8.45 – 9.45 Q&A Helen Yaffe, Valia Rodriguez
About the Film
A global pandemic in a globalised world. Over one million people have died. What could we have done differently to save lives and livelihoods?
In search of collective solutions and best practice, Dr Helen Yaffe, economic historian at the University of Glasgow and Dr Valia Rodriguez, Cuban physician at the University of Aston, look to Cuba for valuable lessons. By reacting quickly and decisively, mobilising their extensive public healthcare system and state-owned biotech sector, Cuba has kept contagion and fatalities down and initiated clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine. They have also treated patients and saved lives overseas.
Based on interviews with top scientists, community doctors and medical internationalists, this documentary explores Cuba’s outstanding domestic and international response to the global pandemic. From Cuba’s extraordinary biotech sector we interview Dr Luis Herrera Martínez, who led the team that produced the Cuban anti-viral drug Interferon Alfa 2b in 1986 and is now a scientific adviser to BioCubaFarma; Dr Gerardo Guillén, Director of Biomedical Research at the world-leading Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, which has produced some of the innovative drugs on Cuba’s Covid-19 treatment protocol; and Dr Mitchell Valdes Sosa, Director General of the Cuban Neuroscience Centre, which was charged with manufacturing the medical equipment required during the pandemic.
We interview a family doctor from Havana, who conducts daily door-to-door health checks to track down the virus and slow community transmission, and a medical student who was among 28,000 others to join the public health campaign as universities were shut down. We hear from Jesús Ruiz Alemán, a member of the Henry Reeve International Medical Contingent who went to Lombardy in Italy when it was the epicentre of the global pandemic.
Through active screening, testing, tracing, isolating, hospitalising and following up cases, by 19 October the island of 11.2 million people reported just 6,258 cases and 127 deaths. No healthcare workers, pregnant women or children had died of Covid-19 on the island and clinical trials were underway for 13 Covid-19 related domestic biopharma products. Since March, 3,700 Cuban medical specialists in disease control had treated over 350,000 Covid-19 patients in nearly 40 countries. This has been achieved despite the Trump administration severely tightening sanctions against Cuba, blocking revenues and generating scarcities of oil, food and medical goods.
Presented by Dr Helen Yaffe and Dr Valia Rodriguez, Cuba & Covid-19: public health, science and solidarity is produced by DaniFilms in collaboration with Belly of the Beast Cuba.
The documentary is followed by a live Q&A between Helen Yaffe and Valia Rodriguez on our Facebook page at 8.45pm