Nursing graduate Abelardo Machado Aguilera

The Nursing graduate Abelardo Machado Aguilera has been at the forefront in the confrontation with COVID-19; first in Mexico and now in the Cuban capital. 

Las Tunas, Cuba.- In a foreign country and in the middle of the red zone, treating COVID-19 patients, the nurse Abelardo Machado Aguilera literally felt the earth move under his feet. It was not his invention because of the stress of those intense workdays; last June 23, in the morning, the National Seismological System of Mexico registered a strong earthquake of 7.5 on the Richter scale.

He had arrived in the Aztec nation days earlier as part of the Henry Reeve disaster contingent to help stop the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. That was more than clear to him, and that tremor could shake the objects around him and even arouse fear, but it did not detract from its purpose of saving lives.

There he spent three months delivering something more than knowledge: love for the human being, and he brought, as the best of rewards, the gratitude of the Mexicans who, according to his account, asked to be assisted by Cuban personnel.

“When they were discharged they said goodbye with much gratitude and affection. The experience was very interesting, because I got to know a country considered the second economy in Latin America with advanced technologies. However, they do not have enough professionals in the sector prepared to face this pandemic."

Nursing graduate Abelardo Machado Aguilera“Mexico also does not have a level of primary care, for which the risk groups are unknown and they do not carry out preventive work; much less can an isolation program be established or asymptomatic patients are admitted. This is the cause of the high number of infected and deceased. Our health system, even with all the shortcomings, is excellent compared to that of that nation."

More than 37 years in Nursing and his passage through the land of Benito Juárez and also through that of Simón Bolívar, some time ago, has allowed Abelardo to broaden his vision and further value Health in Cuba, always perfectible, but with undeniable merits.


At the beginning of August, Machado Aguilera arrived in Las Tunas. Once again he was surrounded by the affection and security he had longed for from a distance. Hugging his elderly mother and his wife smiled back. Now he would enjoy a well-deserved rest in the warmth of his family, but the pause would not last long.

A few days later, still in the middle of the period of isolation at home, duty knocked on his door again. Given the complex epidemiological situation in Havana, they requested their service to attend to confirmed COVID-19.

He confesses his surprise because he had just returned from Mexico, but he understood the importance of providing support, and together with 41 other colleagues he left for his new destination. “I accepted this mission because of the danger that this disease represents for everyone and the urgency to eradicate it as soon as possible. I understand that if I already gave my contribution to another country, why not do it in mine when they need me most."

In each of his words, written via Whatsapp, Abelardo reveals an altruistic human being, with a friendly character and a consecrated professional; qualities that, he assures, should not be lacking in those who dedicate their life to Nursing.

“Working with these patients has allowed me to know well about the disease, its symptoms, treatment and the actions to face it. I consider strict compliance with the isolation protocols to avoid contagion among hospitalized patients, as well as educational talks regarding the maintenance of personal hygiene and the use of the nasobuco at all times."

Recognize that getting used to wearing the protective suit is a real challenge, especially on these days of scorching heat. However, it states that "the security it provides is invaluable, and you have to use it."

At the Julio Díaz hospital, in Havana, adapted to assist those infected with the virus, he is seen with the same energy as always, taking extreme biosecurity measures. "It is a sacrifice to be away from family and my mother who is almost 80 years old, but here I am on the front line."

And he adds: “I think that fear is something relative because in these cases one has the patient as a priority and is determined to assist him regardless of the state he is in; what we do take precautions not to end up in the place of the patient."

Abelardo knows that there will be no possible respite while the SARS-CoV-2 virus circulates in Cuba and in the world. He will return, once again, to the soil of Las Tunas with his mission accomplished, always ready to serve and honor his profession. And when all this is over you will preserve the infinite joy of having contributed in this fight for life.