Students back from Cuba

The Free State provincial government has integrated the 77 students who studied Medicine in Cuba in the South African health system.

They are based in the province having started their duties on 1 August.

Mondli Mvambi, spokesperson of the Health Department, said the 77 students will be based in the province accor­ding to their programme.

The 77 students were part of a group of 210 students who studied in Cuba on a full scholarship provided by the provincial government. They were send to Cuba in 2012 to study Medicine.

“The Department of Health was assigned from 2012 by the provincial government to look after the well-being of the students and to provide academic and psycho-social support that would result in these students completing the programme.

“The department also provided other mechanisms, ensuring their success and making it a worthy investment for the province and the country,” said Mvambi.

“The Nelson Mandela Fidel Castro Scholarship Programme is a significant intervention in curbing the scourge of scarcity of doctors and medical professionals. This will impact positively to lower and eradicate the increasing burden of diseases and strengthening the primary health care perspective of government.

“The initiative is also about strengthening the capacity of a preventative health care system which capacitates the clinics to be able to provide prevention of diseases as opposed to the heavy reliance on expensive hospital based system of care,” he said.

Mvambi said there were 187 students continuing their studies in Cuba with 23 students unable to complete their programmes.

“Those who did not complete their programme were due to reasons such as academic exclusion, death and ill-health.”

Mvambi said the department will in due course be welco­ming 117 students who completed their final year in Cuba.

“They completed a 18-months training programme at various universities in Cuba.

“Furthermore, 44 students will be in the country for their electives programme at various health facilities closer to their homes. These 44 students who will be doing electives are not yet qualified to handle patients.

“Their electives provide for them to observe as patients are being treated by qualified health care practitioners as part of their training,” he said.

Mvambi said plans were afoot to ensure that the 117 students be placed at various higher institutions in the country for a 18-months training programme.

“As an extension of their training platform, they will be placed at various hospitals in the province,” he said.

“In January 2020, these students will commence their two-year internship in South Africa.”