What happened on April 26, 1986 when the fourth reactor of the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Nuclear Power Plant, located in northern Ukraine, 3 kilometers from Pripyat, 18 from Chernobyl and 17 from the border with Belarus, exploded, is still in the hearts. The memories sank into the tears of thousands of families who had ceased to exist and had to adapt to a new reality.
Considered the worst nuclear accident in history, the Chernobyl tragedy exploded in an instant and cast a shadow over the color of human life, the wilderness, and the green of the shrubs that had mutated into red tones. Today it is a deserted city among deserted streets, ghost parks and homes frozen in time with the backgammon set, a picture as real as it is bleak.
The firefighting teams that helped control the fire, those that helped clear the areas, in addition to all the residents who lived around the factory suffered from the effects of high levels of radioactivity in the air, some to the point of death, while others over the years began to suffer from diseases. Skin and various types of cancer.
Thousands of children from the former Soviet Union were victims of that ordeal. In the first call for help from the Soviet Union, Cuba extended its hand, so Cuban specialists traveled to that continent to analyze the most affected cases, which were immediately assisted in the city of José Martí de Tarara, turning it into a large sanatorium.
The first 139 Soviet girls and boys who came for various treatments touched the Cuban lands on March 29, 1990, and were received by the same leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, on the stairs of the plane. That first group was the origin of the Cuban medical program that helped the Chernobyl children free of charge for 21 consecutive years.
At the conclusion of the Sixth International Symposium on Primary Care on November 28, 1997, when barely seven years had passed since the humanitarian initiative had existed, Castro Ruz emphasized that Cuba alone has treated more Chernobyl children than the rest of the children. Countries of the world although the North did not communicate about it.
“Almost fifteen thousand children! (…) had it not been for socialism, it would not have been possible to take care of the 19 thousand children and adults from the three affected republics in that nuclear accident in Cuba, and most of them were taken care of in the middle of the special period,” warned the Commander in Chief. . Statistics show that in total, more than 26 thousand children were cared for from Russia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine.
Dr. Carlos Dutres, who was director of medical services in Tarara to later take up the position of Minister of Health, stated, according to the edition of Granma dating back to 1999, that “changes in the health of these children were related to ionizing radiation, as well as genetic, environmental and social factors.”
According to the specialist, Cuban doctors and the scientific community who devoted themselves to this sensitive task treated children with oncological diseases. For some, it was necessary to undergo bone marrow and kidney transplantation, cardiovascular surgery, and orthopedics due to genetic and physical abnormalities respectively.
More than a hundred surgeries have been performed for both malignant and benign tumors. The number of minors with thyroid problems was high. “They suffer from vitiligo, alopecia and psoriasis, and they have received support from specialists from the placental tissue therapy center. Thousands of children have been immunized with the Cuban hepatitis B vaccine and the BC meningococcal vaccine.”
Cuba attended medical, dental, psychological, general nursing and comprehensive rehabilitation, and for the recovery of these children, it had the support of 15 medical institutions of the highest scientific level.
The solidarity and humanity of the Cuban people are very valuable, almost unique in the world, and not to please the president of the Chernobyl Children’s Association, Irina Ivasenko, once told Fidel, “A very small country and a very big heart!”