Department of Health 01/08/2019 - 14:13
On Monday, 15 June 2019, Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku joined by the delighted family members and friends held a welcome home ceremony for the Nelson Mandela Fidel Castro (NMFC) Medical Training Programme students at the OR Tambo International Airport.
Initiated in 1996, the collaboration programme between South Africa and Cuba is aimed at addressing the shortage of medical practitioners in historically disadvantaged areas as well as to improve human resource capacity and strengthen the health care system in South Africa.
The Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) started participating in the programme in 1998 by sending 30 students who are now qualified doctors and working in different institutions across the province.
To date, the Department has sent 465 students to study in the programme of which 29 of them are already qualified doctors. Whereas 8 are currently doing medical internship and 73 completing their 6 year integration program in various South African University.
In addition, a total number of 85 students have just arrived in the country to be integrated for their 6th year programme and further 267 are still remaining in Cuba.
Since the inception of the programme, Gauteng Department of Health has invested a tune of R838 million to afford the deserving students from historically disadvantaged areas to study medicine in Cuba.
In welcoming the students, MEC Masuku took the opportunity to pose a challenge to them to be actively involved in building a Gauteng and South African health system that is efficient, equitable and guarantees patient and occupational health safety.
"I am here to celebrate with the students, as well as their families and the rest of the South Africans and indeed we are proud of them. Your added cultural advantage of having learned in the Spanish language will no doubt forever remind us of the strong linkages between South Africa and Cuba beyond the diplomatic links of solidary between our countries.
"We welcome you to share valuable lessons from the Republic of Cuba which has one of the best health outcomes and from which we must learn, especially in human resource development for health; and prevention of disease through its proactive primary health care system", said MEC Masuku.
MEC Masuku further added that the Department will continue to play its part in changing the lives of those who aspire to further their studies in the health-related field by offering them bursaries where it can. Dr Masuku also reminded the students that their return coincides with the celebration of the Mandela Month, a true believer in education and a great leader who valued the develop of the African child so much.
The Republic of Cuba has one of the best health outcomes especially in human resource development for health and disease prevention through its proactive and preventative primary health care model. Gauteng Department of Health will rely on the expertise acquired in the Cuban healthcare system by the young students to better shape and improve public healthcare.
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