British Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020

Language barrier causing difficulty for local health professionals working with Cuban medical team

Language barrier causing difficulty for local health professionals working with Cuban medical team

It is being reported that local doctors and other persons within the public health services sector have been experiencing a new sense of difficulty since collaborating with the Cuban medical brigade that has been deployed to the territory.

These claims are from Opposition legislator Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull who said local medical professionals have expressed to him that it is a challenge to communicate with the Cuban team because of the language difference.

He said: “I applaud and commend the workers in the healthcare field and those that have been doing their utmost best to protect us and put measures in place to keep us safe. But I understand now from some of the professionals and doctors that none of the Cuban doctors speak English.”

“They are unable to speak to any clients. You have to get somebody to translate to them to bring help … I understand from all local doctors and all our people in the health services that feel that ‘we’re having difficulty’. We’re having to work twice as hard because they are unable to communicate,” Turnbull further reported during a press conference with other members of the parliamentary opposition on Wednesday.

Second District Representative Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull

While stating that it was a good idea to bring doctors into the territory to assist with the territory’s COVID-19 cases, Turnbull said he believes the government had no real plan in place.

“So are we doing things with an actual plan? Nobody knew that these doctors couldn’t speak English? But we celebrate and they’re there,” he said.

Cubans purpose is to strengthen fight against COVID-19

Since the Cuban medical team commenced duties in the territory earlier this month, Premier Andrew Fahie said in a media release they would help to further strengthen the BVI in its fight against COVID-19.

Premier Fahie also said the Cubans’ expertise and presence in the BVI will assist with the confident reopening of the territory’s borders knowing that adequate specialised treatment capacity is now available to all residents.


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