Fewer than half finish course for doctors in Cuba

2013-03-09 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Fewer than half the South Africans sent to Cuba to train as doctors have completed the course.

Between 1997 and 2009, the government sent 624 medical students to Cuba, but according to parliamentary records, in October 2011 Health director-general Precious Matsoso revealed that by that date, only 257 had qualified as doctors.

The department this week revealed that six students had given up their scholarships and returned home in a dispute over the stipends the government pays them over and above living expenses.

They were part of a group of 187 students who went on strike in February, complaining about the pocket money and about food.

They wanted the stipend increased from R1 600 a month to more than R6 300.

Health spokesperson Joe Maila said it cost the government about R500 000 to train each student in Cuba.

“We gave the students a choice: either they must accept the current stipend or give up and come home. Six chose the second option.”

South Africa has eight medical schools that produce 1 200 doctors a year.

However, to make the National Health Insurance scheme work, the country needs to train at least four times as many doctors.

The government is increasing the capacity, including the building of a new medical school at Polokwane, but sending students to Cuba is another way to produce more doctors.

Last year, the government dramatically increased the number of students in Cuba.

“We decided in October to send 1 000 students as a temporary bridging measure,” Maila said.

The decision by the six students to quit has been condemned.

The Young Communist League demanded that they repay the money already spent on them, while the Democratic Alliance’s Patricia Kopane said they lacked moral fibre.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.