BVI News

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.

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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  1. Speak says:

    The Cubans are not Doctors. All Cuban Doctors in Cuba speak English. This is true in many many countries around the world. If these people don’t speak English then they are just communist agents here to infiltrate the BVI. Foy has invited the e***y to live beside us. This man Foy never ceases to amaze.

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  2. Really says:

    I hope this is only half the story. Obviously there would be a language barrier so they should have gotten translators before the team even arrived.

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  3. Hmm says:

    That’s embarrassing.

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  4. Lost Lemon says:

    This is now a surprise to Government? WTF?!!

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Why would the government invest in and spend hundrends of thousands of dollars in importing spanish speaking non bilingual doctors into an english speaking country?

    Should that not have been a major consideration in the planning stages of that initiative?

    What then is the competency level of the decision makers on that level of that decision making process within government?

    This is a very glaring example of incompetence on many decision making levels.

    This is beyond rediculous. This is insanity. As, there are bilingual doctors within Cuba with the same speciality skills.

    Ultimately, the government tax payers coffers, patients and the sick will be the victims of this massive incompetent decision. This should not be occuring in the 21st century.

    What a diaster of incompetence.

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  6. Doh says:

    Yes this a problem for now. But schools will soon be required to teach Spanish to all students as part of the new regime. We must be able to speak with our comrades and carry on the revolution.

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  7. The Nation says:

    This is nonsense. Cuban doctors go all around the world to help. The Cuban doctors speak English…the BVI medical people need to humble themselves. For crying out loud Peebles has African and Filipino medical people for whom English is also their second language…so please Bvi BVI medical….how about y’all learn to speak another language for a change…people always going to try to find some thing to complain about. That’s the difference between those who get ahead and those who stay behind.

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  8. Trumpet says:

    SMH. Hope this young aspiring politician and his comrade in the 8th is not a local BVI Trump and Mitch Maconnel.

    These 2 men goes on TV and blatantly disregard the truth with lies and more lies and deceiving the American public, Hope these 2 locals are not following in Trump footsteps.

    It is very, very hard for me to believe that the premier and his Health Minister would agree to have these cubans in BVI and not one of the 23 can speak a stick of English. SMH

    If that is true, then it begs me to ask What was Premier thinking? Did he plan to hire some Santo’s to interpret or he was bring those Cubans to Santo?

    Some body please clarify if Mitch got his information correctly or if he spread or telling the truth. My limited intelligence and political will cannot accept this that we have a “team of medical experts” and not ONE can speak English. Isn’t this the same team that was in Jamaica?

    Come on somebody, or even BVINews need to confirm this story. Please with urgency.

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  9. yes says:

    neither speak fluent English?

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  10. Chrome- says:

    Mitch please stop with all the f****** criticizing man

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  11. rookie government says:

    With the VIP in power that’s expected

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  12. BVI communist says:

    Why is Fahie bringing in Cuban Communism instead UK assistance?

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  13. Cuba says:

    Cuba is a Spanish speaking country since the 1500’s so all the visiting doctors only speak Spanish. Why is this a problem now? If you speak/understand proper English then Spanish is not that difficult to learn. Even kids here can speak/understand English and Spanish. Buena Suerte!

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  14. Reply says:

    That’s quite unfortunate. The BVI has among its residents a diverse group of people who speak different languages with Spanish being perhaps the most common secondary language spoken.

    While most health care providers may not have trained in other languages, it’s essential that they have some basis foreign language skills when taking care of diverse patient populations.

    More importantly, recognizing that most health provider are not multi-lingual it is up to the hospital to provide translation services to providers so that they can better communicate with patients. Most hospitals have them, and if the hospital is to achieve accreditation status, it has to have this service in place.

    At any rate, if the local providers are having this reported difficulty working with the Cuban medical team, may I suggest they simply pull out their cell phones and use Google translation services. It’s not rocket science.

    Now, the government has been touting the arrival of this Cuban team for some time now. The Ministry of Health should have anticipated this communication issue.

    That ministry, imo, should have had translators in place prior to this medical teams arrival to facilitate communication between the local English speaking providers and the patients.

    Somebody dropped the ball. They had plenty of time to do this.

    At this point, they can either hire a few Spanish speaking individuals as translators to add to the team, or if their are employees at the hospital who can communicate in Spanish, assume that role for now.

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  15. Mr.Gage says:

    You think this is something that the Government would obviously consider before hand

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  16. Say what? says:

    Are you surprised? Weren’t you informed as a government that spanish-speaking “so called helpers” are coming to the territory? The first question should be “how are we going to deal with the language barrier?”. Couldn’t they have gotten a crash course in English while our health care workers given a crash course in Spanish? Language is such a significant aspect of communication especially in the health field. We need to be more proactive as a people. We are dealing with people’s lives. In health you cannot use 6 for 9. It can’t work. Come on, get real.

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  17. Captain BVI says:

    As per standard BVI govt policy – Ready, Fire, Aim!!!

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  18. DISAPPOINTED says:

    I really do not believe this. I am 100% sure there is at least 1 employee at the hospital that is bilingual. As someone mentioned translating is only a button away on your phone so that should not be a problem. I have never heard any other country that had Cuban help complained about the Language barrier.

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  19. Really says:

    No s**t, what you was expecting!

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  20. concern not concern says:

    these people are crazy, they need to relax .why are they worried about spy etc .oh, now i see something fishy meaning they doing wrongs .well well

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  21. FOR REAL says:

    It is obvious that these doctors may not be fluent in English but they can communicate a little. Most of Us know a little Spanish and they knows a little English and there is Google translate and there is also a Cuban Nurse there working long ago who speaks very good English that can help out Until they get a little better at communicating. Lets work with them and appreciate the assistance. Cuban Doctors goes all over the world and help out in Languages that are very foreign to them. Lets work with them to get up to speed instead of bashing them.

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  22. Bamba says:

    I have met them all. Some do speak English but the majority do not.

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  23. No kidding says:

    Well hello, nobody told the authorities that communication is key?? If they can’t speak our language how on earth they are going to doctor us?? Authorities should have ensured the doctors are fluent in English before bringing them here, what a cock and bull story, well God bless my days.

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  24. Exit says:

    Mitch you will be voted out next election. I’m sick and tired of hearing your nonsense!!!! I cannot deal with your pathetic behavior anymore!!!! You must go!!!!!

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  25. DON’T BELIEVE. says:

    Even if they are diplomats or “spies”,
    the Cuban medical team members speak the Queen’s English better than the BVI medical team. Hence, a language barrier.

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  26. Hmm says:

    Is this really a problem? We have so many Spanish people here. Get a few who are willing to work to translate. Some of them may welcome earning an income during this time in exchange for their services.

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  27. ReX FeRaL says:

    Hire the hill man who used to be in immigration. I heard he speak several languages.Geeze man

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  28. YOUTH says:

    All Mitch does is criticize. He’s as negative as it GETS.

    Like 14
  29. Oh wow says:

    So are we to believe dat wen we go to these doctors day wont fully understand our complain becaz of language barrier and patient privacy shud be a thing so now u hav to hav a third person wit u and d dr wit d way dis hospital going as we see countless time nutin u do in d hospital is private worker run day mouth so much wat a shame
    So cuban interns are a waste of money here

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  30. Watchers says:

    We have a lot of competent Spanish to English translators in the country why not hire a few of them so that they can translate. The certain department have a few of them that they don’t value their worth. Hire them.

  31. Hmm says:

    So you bring them in quarantine them with tax payers money give them free phones and sim then realize that they speak a different language. Best you have bring back the few expats who have their families in the BVI.

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  32. Hire me says:

    I speak 5 language perfectly, Spanish, English, French, Deutschfeistritz, and Portuguese. Hire me. I won’t mind translating. Hire me to translate, but I just wan to be safe and virus free. Please feel free respond via this message proving an email or number I could contact the hospital you. Cheers.

  33. Don says:

    You all say u are educated an have language barrier with speaking Latin , come on you local medic need help mon !

  34. To Hire Me says:

    Yes Sir, Although you are fluent in the above languages you will find difficulty translating our own unique language. For example “me belly ache” means “I hungry”, not a pain in the stomach.

  35. Don’t believe says:

    How come Cuba Doctors in other Caribbean Island working for years without any problems with language Barrier

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  36. Hmmm says:

    Something does not sound right. These Ciubans have been assisting around the world and even in other Caribbean islands without any known problems. What really is the problem?

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  37. meds says:

    Barbados is complaining about the same thing that majority of medical workers sent from Cuba are not able to communicate fluently in English.

    I had a big laugh with Fahie made his Spanish sentence. Question? would he be working alongside the team? Does he have a clue what it is like to be a sick individual and your doctor cannot understand you. nor you him? Does he understand that the miscommunication can lead to mis-diagnosis, and mis-diagnosis can lead to wrong treatment? This is not a laughing matter nor one that you can downplay.

    What happened is that the BVI authorities assumed that Cuba would know to send English speaking personnel. My mother use to tell me that thought made a man sh.t up heself.

    Now here we are, paying for what again?People’s healthcare is noting to gamble with even with all your good intentions

  38. Anonymous says:

    Gracias a ellos los medicos para que en otros paises tengan buena salud

  39. Hahaha BVi says:




  40. Remember says:

    Most of the Doctors and Nurses at the hospital are not local.

  41. Cuban more good says:

    I prefer them.cuban doctors in bvi. Instead of this nigerian and foolish doctors you have in the hospital just gettin paid for free when you get there very sick they just ask you 100 questiosn and search the problem in google and a the end of the day just give you a paracetamol. They are the worse in tola. I prefer cuban doctor 100% them.other ones they are more profesional even if they not speak english

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  42. Truth says:

    Haha haha is this a joke!!! The Existing Doctors are a joke. As above mentioned. BVI gov refuse to pay the money for Doctors full stop. We don’t have a proper qualified Dr in BVI because all BVi governments value money over the people’s health. Always been the case. Cuban Doctors wither English speaking or not are better than the Googlers we currently have that hand out dangerous medications all day long.

    Has anyone heard on Google translate!!!

    Let’s stop the BS and get together on this before it’s too late!!

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  43. Serious thing says:

    So now y’all more educated and trained than the locals and y’all have a language barrier with the Cuban Medical Team. I see where this is going,if you not from Jamaica and St. Vincent you not qualified and trained enough to work in the BVI. If this not a take over of the workforce then somebody tell me what it is.

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