MEC: Training in Cuba necessary

2016-04-14 12:30
KZN Health MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

KZN Health MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - With over 700 students from KwaZulu-Natal in medical training in Cuba, concerns over the department’s money benefitting Cuba rather than South African universities have been raised.

On Wednesday, KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo presented the 2016 KZN health budget speech at the KZN legislature.

Dhlomo said 765 KZN students were in medical training in Cuba with a focus on medicine in a community-orientated environment working to prevent illnesses.

Of the 765 students in Cuba, 23 are part of the 2015 intake and include four students whose parents are covering their studies.

DA MP Dr Imram Keeka said yesterday it was concerning that students were being sent to study in Cuba when they could be studying in KZN and supporting the universities in the province and the local economy.

“With KZN students training to be doctors in Cuba, our money is now in the pockets of the Cubans,” he said.

Dhlomo said in his speech that the students’ training programme was essential following an analysis of the existing medical officers.

“There are 27 medical officers above the age of 66 currently employed on a full-time basis,” said Dhlomo. “These doctors who ought to have retired at 65 are employed and paid on higher notches due to their expertise and experience.”

He said 110 doctors between the ages of 60 and 65 are currently working and are being paid more because of their expertise. He added that 286 doctors are between the ages of 50 to 59 and expected to retire in the next 10 years.

“We are thus hopeful that the long-term investment in the training of medical officers, including internally trained doctors will ensure coverage of our province,” he said.

Dhlomo said that the province was dealing with a “barrage” of medico-legal claims to the tune of R105 million.

He said the issue was a national one and KZN had hosted a one-day workshop on medico-legal claims in October last year.

The purpose of the workshop was to “provide guidance and serve as a platform for discussion”.

He said it was also used to reach consensus on the processes that needed to be followed in adverse clinical events.

The budget speech also presented some terrifying statistics on the fight to curb the spread of HIV/Aids in the province.

The speech said that five of the six districts in South Africa with a 40% infection rate in pregnant women were in KwaZulu-Natal.

“For the past 13 years, KZN reported the highest HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women,” said the speech.

Those with the highest figures include uMgungundlovu, ILembe, eThekwini, uThukela and uMkhanyakude.

Earlier this year The Witness reported that there was a major backlog in chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer patients due to machines in state hospitals being broken.

Dhlomo said the machines had been fixed but they were still dealing with the backlog.

“People must come in early before their cancer reaches the advanced stages,” he said.

“The issue is an alarm for patients, doctors and the department and we urge patients to seek treatment early.

“If treatment is sought in the advanced stages, it does not matter how many machines we have, they will come in and still die,” he said.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    cuba  |  pietermaritzburg  |  training  |  doctors  |  health

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