SA eyes global medical training

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cape Town – South Africa is looking at the possibility of sending medical students to other parts of the world to receive training.

There are currently about 1 200 medical students from South Africa studying in Cuba, which historically enjoys strong bilateral ties with SA.

But now, the health minister is hoping to extend this to other parts of the world and has his eye on Russia.

Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, told SAnews in Cape Town on Thursday that he had recently heard that Russia was training medical students from Africa, but that there were no South Africans on this course.

“I want to find out more about this programme. We’ll send our students all over the world to countries that have the capacity to train them. So, I will look at it,” Dr Motsoaledi said.

Should South African medical students study in Russia, this in all likelihood will be linked to the Brics partnership. Brics is an acronym for the powerful grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Dr Motsoaledi emphasised however that this did not mean that the South African initiative to train doctors in Cuba would end.

In February, 187 of these students embarked on an illegal strike. Their demands included among others, that their stipend be increased by more than 300% from $200 to $700 per month.

The department had dispatched a team consisting of a senior social worker, a senior psychologist, HR manager and a doctor who himself is a beneficiary of a Cuban medical studies to Cuba to assist the students. The team joined our Ambassador in Cuba to negotiate with the students with a view to settling this problem.

The Cuban government and the academic staff in the university affected joined the team and tried their best to have the matter resolved.

Earlier, the minister said at a press briefing that he had written to each one of students stressing that their demands would not be met. After the students refused to accept his letter, he called them home.

“It was a crisis. We called back six because we wanted to understand.” Motsoaledi said, explaining that he had wanted full disclosure because there were indications that some people in South Africa had collaborated with the aggrieved students. –