North West students to study medicine in Cuba

Monday, September 14, 2009

North West - In an effort to address the shortage of doctors in the North West, the provincial Health and Social Development Department is to send 26 students to study medicine in Cuba.

This is part of an ongoing exchange programme with Cuba which started in 1997 when the two countries signed a bilateral agreement. The two governments agreed to recruit Cuban doctors, while they trained South African students free of charge.

The students will leave for Cuba next week and study for a period of five years. In their sixth year, they will return to South Africa to do community service.

At the moment, 14 students are doing their community service having completed their training.

"Through the South African/Cuban Medical Programme, more and more medical professionals are becoming available. This slowly but surely increases the doctor-patient contact in hospitals mainly serving rural communities" says MEC Rebecca Kasienyane.

The programme targets students from disadvantaged communities with exceptional matric results.

Nine of the prospective doctors hail from the Dr. Segomotsi Momapti District, seven from Bojanala Platinum District, while Ngaka Modiri Molema and Dr. Kenneth Kaunada Districts have five students each going to Cuba.

Last week, the students underwent a week-long orientation at health facilities in Bojanala where they familiarized themselves with medical practices.

MEC Kasienyane will address the 26 during a farewell ceremony on Friday and the recruits will leave on Thursday next week.