The campaign called ‘Rebuilding the Cuban Ambulance Service’ saw Cuba receive 100 ambulances.
50 of these ambulances came from the London Ambulance Service while the other half came from other ambulance services around the country.
The campaign was started by Phil Lenton who was a Unison National Officer based in Newcastle. He went on a trip to Cuba with some other Unison people.
While he was there he visited the Ambrosia Grillo Hospital in Santiago de Cuba and saw for himself the appalling conditions the health workers had to work under because of the American blockade. He asked if there was anything he could do to help and was told that what they were most short of was transport to bring patients in and move staff around.
The Cuban Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) had relied on nearly 3,000 Soviet built ambulances, the newest of which was more than 20 years old. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union there had been no spare parts available for these vehicles and over the last 10 years 90% of them had gone out of service. To obtain a high quality fully equipped emergency ambulance MINSAP would have had to pay anything from $50,000 to $100,000, from its very limited hard currency budget, which is subject to demands for urgent medicines and medical equipment.
Phil decided to send a bus from the UK which was the start of the campaign.
Santiago de Cuba is Cuba’s second city after Havana and is on the east of the island.
Many thanks to lasunison.com for permission to use this information