260 medical students return from Cuba

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A total of 260 students sent to study medicine in Cuba have returned to South Africa and will soon be helping with the health of the nation, the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department said.

“The return of the students is very exciting. It is humbling. You could see the parents crying tears of joy,” Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo is quoted in a News24 report as saying. “They remember how they’ve navigated this journey of six years in a foreign country.”

In particular, he said, the implementation of National Health Insurance – which focuses on primary healthcare – would benefit from the students’ expertise. “These students, coming back as doctors trained in Cuba, are driven by that as a way of life: primary healthcare, health promotion, health education, prevention of diseases, all of which is exciting for us as South Africa,” said Dhlomo. “We are hoping that we are going to turn the corner, thanks to them.”

The report says the returning students will spend the next 18 months finalising their qualifications at a South African university, before starting work as doctors. The 260 are part of a group of 2,885 South African medical students who were sent to Cuba for studies.

“No fewer than 590 doctors have already qualified from the training programme since it started in 1996, while 98 students are doing their final year at South African medical schools.”

One of the students who returned from Cuba, Zazi Zulu said that he was looking forward to applying the medical knowledge he had gained. “I want to use my skills and expertise and work with diligence for the benefit of my fellow compatriots,” he said.

News24 report

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