Cuba 37 funds crisis

2016-03-16 12:52
Sibongiseni Dhlomo (Picture: The Witness)

Sibongiseni Dhlomo (Picture: The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - The provincial Department of Health is uncertain how to recover funds from the expelled students in the Cuban doctors programme.

About 37 students who were sent to Cuba, in the department’s attempt to curb the shortage of medical doctors, are back in the country.

Some students are on suspension due to ill-discipline, others have returned because they are pregnant, while some are back in the country due to illness.

Addressing a finance portfolio committee meeting yesterday at the provincial legislature, MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said the department has yet to come up with a plan on how the funds will be recouped.

Depending on the level of study of a student, it could cost the department up to R310 781 for one student.

“These are very poor parents who did not know that for some reason, their children will be expelled from the programme. We were going to benefit if these students came back as doctors,” he said.

Dhlomo said some students had dropped out as early as the first year, and expressed that they had no intentions of going back to Cuba.

As a result, a meeting to be attended by Dhlomo, head of department Sifiso Mtshali, parents and the students to discuss the matter has been called.

“We will tell them [parents] that they do owe the government and we will hear from them whether they are able to pay back the money because their children did not come back as doctors.

“Some of them have come back permanently, some of them have been suspended for a number of years as a result of ill-discipline.

“We are not able to prescribe to Cuba to take them back because they have broken Cuban laws or university laws.”

Dhlomo said the students needed to know that they were in Cuba to study.

“We do tell them that they are going to Cuba but cannot change the culture of Cuba. You are not there to change policies of Cuba. You need to get around Cuba,” he said.

Dhlomo said there was a need for the department to provide psychological support to the students.

“Some of them leave the country when they are still too young, some 16 years old.

“I can imagine going to a foreign country at such a young age to study an extensive programme [can be daunting].

“I do not know whether we cover orientation enough before they go.

“There are still about 800 students who listened to the advice,” he said.

Dhlomo also said the department had made submissions to the national department to train the students in the country to cut costs.

He said it will be much cheaper if the department brought Cuban experts to the country to train the students.

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

THE issue of medical claims are more than the provincial Department of Health head of department Sifiso Mtshali has said.

The department has seen over-expenditure as a result of escalating costs of medico-legal claims.

In its mid-year projection, provincial hospital services overspent by R111,799 million mainly due to medico-legal claims to the tune of R52,66 million.

They are expected to overspent by R219 million at year end, largely due to medico-legal costs.

Central hospital services spending was more than projections by R15,279 million with the bulk of this overspending being a result of higher than expected costs related to medico-legal claims at R13,635 million.

However, Mtshali yesterday told members of the finance portfolio committee that “the issue was a more societal issue”.

Mtshali said he had heard on the radio that some countries were sending pregnant women to the country, because their countries were cutting down services because of medical claims.

Read more on:    cuba  |  pietermaritzburg  |  health

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