Mpuma health dept offers Cuban bursaries

Nelspruit - The Mpumalanga Department of Health and Social Development is to offer bursaries to study medicine in Cuba.

Departmental spokesperson Mpho Gabashane said the offer was aimed at reducing the shortage of doctors in the province.

"The Cuban bursary programme will help address the backlog and will also open doors for students from poor communities who would otherwise struggle to afford to study medicine," said Mr Gabashane.

The initiative forms part of a campaign to recruit new doctors into public health care in Mpumalanga and reverse a decade-long brain-drain from provincial hospitals.

Mr Gabashane said some public hospitals in the province are so short-staffed that they sometimes can't perform life-saving surgeries, treat chronically ill or seriously injured patients or guarantee that there is always a doctor on duty.

"The only commitment the province expects in return for the bursaries is that graduates pledge to work for public hospitals in their communities when they return," he said.

He said they will have to complete a year's internship and two years' community service at a public health facility.

He invited all Mpumalanga matriculants under 25 years old from historically disadvantaged communities who have higher grade passes in science, biology and maths, to apply.

Applicants must not have a criminal record and will be tested for chronic diseases that may inhibit their ability to work as doctors or medical specialists.

Applicants must provide certified copies of their identity documents, matric certificates, proof of residence from a local chief or municipality, proof of income of both parents or an affidavit stating that their parents are unemployed.

Mr Gabashane said applicants also need to have a valid passport and will need to write a motivational letter stating why they think they qualify for the bursary.

Application forms are available from Justice Ravhura in Ehlanzeni on (013) 755-5191, Sarie Podges from Gert Sibande on (017) 811-1640, or Rose Nchabeleng from Nkangala on (013) 656 6255. Applications close on 11 June.