Health plans to bring Cuban lecturers to KZN

2013-08-07 00:00

THE KZN government is considering bringing in Cuban lecturers to the province to train medical students as an alternative to sending its students to train on the Caribbean island.

Yesterday, Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo unveiled the plan, which entailed a visit to Angola — an African country which has partnered with Cuba to train medical students in their country.

South Africa has been sending about 80 students to Cuba after a 1995 agreement between the countries.

Last year this number increased to 1 000, with KZN sending 344. This year the province plans to send 310 students.

The students who undergo the training receive full scholarships for the duration of their studies. Their six-year studies are funded by the national Health Department at about R1 million a student, including monthly stipends, tuition and accommodation.

Dhlomo said it was expensive to send students to study in Cuba, and he will lead a departmental delegation to Angola on Sunday to explore how the lecturing programme has worked in that country.

“You still exit with a Cuban degree while trained on Angolan soil, which going forward might be much cheaper,” he siad.

Dhlomo, who would not be drawn on commenting on the possible costs of the exercise, said if the model used in Angola was approved by the government, training colleges would be opened in KZN to train medical students.

“We may push the number [of KZN students] to 500,” he said.

Cuba, a country the size of KZN, has a population of 10,5 million people and 28 medical schools. Yet SA has a population of 50 million and eight medical schools.

Dhlomo said if the initiative was welcomed, it would mean that the number of students being sent to Cuba would be gradually decreased while those trained here was increased.

Committee chairperson Maggie Govender said the training model was an excellent idea to be explored.

“You have our blessings,” she said.

The opposition also welcomed the initiative.

IFP spokesperson Joshua Mazibuko said: “As long as it will help with skills at lower costs, we will support it.”

DA’s Makhosazana Mdlalose said: “It is good idea that we bring the medical school here. We can’t train our students far away for a long time.”

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