KZN health department pays tribute to Castro

2016-12-21 06:01

KWAZULU-NATAL Cuban-trained doctors and other health-care workers gathered at Greys hospital last Thursday to honour and remember the late president of Cuba, Fidel Castro.

The department of health in the province hosted a memorial service as a sign of gratitude to the government of Cuba assisting in training South African doctors through the SA-Cuba health cooperation agreement.

The memorial service was attended, among others, by KZN health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development in KZN and provincial secretary of the South African Communist party Themba Mthembu as well as specialists who are Cuban nationals.

Speaking at the memorial, Dhlomo commended Cuba for opening up its doors for many people in the world to study medicine.

“This programme has uplifted the health status of this country and helped us tackle the problem of the shortage of doctors since we only have eight medical schools which cannot accommodate the influx of the many students wanting to study medicine.”

Dhlomo commended Cuba for not only assisting South Africa in fighting the apartheid regime, but for also opening up its doors to train the doctors.

“Cuba even opened doors for my own son when he was not accepted at any university in the country to study medicine because it was full. That country has made it possible for our doctors from poor backgrounds to break the chains of poverty in their families.

“They are now working in our health system, improving access to health to the people. Most of those are working in rural hospitals and clinics where South African trained doctors and specialists refuse to go.”

Dhlomo said KZN was the biggest beneficiary of the program, with at least 789 medical students currently training in Cuba and 90 qualified doctors fully employed by the department.

Cuban-trained doctor Sanele Madela had his training in Cuba and commended the hospitality they received there during the course of their studies.

“The opportunity changed my life. The majority of doctors who train in Cuba are from disadvantaged backgrounds and today they stand proudly as doctors. The Cubans gave us a warm welcome. They created in me a good doctor and I do wish that South Africa can also produce the calibre of doctors that are produced by Cuba, doctors who are have quality thinking and have the skill and passion for striving to serve rural communities. We will forever be grateful to Fidel for opening up this opportunity to us.”

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