The first Artemisa´s nurse in Togo

Togo is a sub-Saharan African nation, located in the intertropical zone. This country depends on agriculture. Its population reaches almost eight million inhabitants and like most countries, it has been attacked by Sars-Cov-2, the cause of COVID-19.

Members of the Henry Reeve medical brigade arrived in that republic in April to fight  the impact of the pandemic and restore peace to desperate hearts, which in a short time noticed the embrace of an entire people in Cuban medicine.

Our solidarity landed for the first time in those lands. As if it weren't enough, pride also did it: Leydis Tamara López Zayas, from Guanajay , is the only  Artemisa´s girl in the contingent as  intensive care nurse.

After returning to the homeland, optimistic, cheerful, kind ..., we wanted to know about her experience there. This was not similar to any of her previous missions, but a strong struggle between life and death.

How did family receive the news of a mission in the middle of the pandemic?

“Few would be able to understand the lump that is made in the throat, when you receive such news and then you must give it. My family was very scared; it was the first time on this kind of mission.

“We were afraid, I can't say other thing. But I had to go, because when we graduate we must be ready to "provide Health throughout the world." I overcame my own fears and left home behind to take on the call of Cuba, historically a  solidary country.

Each country has its own health protocol. Was teamwork difficult?

"It was. There were many positive cases for COVID. The patients in the red area only wanted to be assisted  by  Cuban doctors  because the Togolese had implemented a distance care system.

“The admitted ones  had a bell: when they felt bad or needed attention they would ring it and, from outside, without contact, the doctor would ask them what they had or wanted. They watched, but never approached, a necessary question for the clinical and even emotional evolution of those who go through this type of situation.

“At first we had to adapt to their  work. Later we discussed the cases, and we were authorized to enter the red zone; we already had the experience of Cuba, the worst risk was not taking care of ourselves. After that little period, they told us that the hospital was ours (smiles). We began to propose protocols, new ways of doing things, and we showed that it was feasible to get closer.

 “We always went to wards together; however, when they saw us enter, the Togolese shouted: ‘Cuba… Cubans, Cubans!’ We  felt very proud ; it showed trust towards our staff.

“Then we insisted on treating other diseases, because in that hospital they only worried about COVID-19. It is well known that it is essential to have controlled diabetes, heart disease and neoplasms. So I remember that we saved and inserted into society a citizen with lung cancer, who almost arrived in shock and left the  hospital  without risk to his life.

“I had countless experiences: I learned to perform PCR test , blood draws and cures. However, my biggest concern was when it came to going out and removing the suit; bad handling could be a risk ”.

You have been lucky of sharing closely with President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez. Is it exciting?

“Yes, It is, I can assure you. I never image being so close to him. He was interested in our work routines in Togo, he thanked us for the will and courage with which we took on the mission. I  did not know  where I got it from.

"From that simple but unforgettable meeting, I keep in my soul his words when he told us: 'Have a happy return home and tighten your hearts, because wherever you arrive you will continue to receive that warmth, that recognition, that affection.' So it was".


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