Monday, 8 August 2011

How South Africa benefits from Cuba

How we benefit from Cuba
Source: Independent Online (IOL, South Africa), 15 July 2011.

- Cuba has freely educated and trained 264 South African medical doctors since 1998, with a further 400 currently still undergoing training in that country.

- Deployment of Cuban doctors to South Africa on an annual basis to assist in addressing shortages in rural areas.

Some 128 Cuban doctors currently work in South Africa - all with a good command of English as required by the Department of Health.

- Deployment of teachers and lecturers in schools and universities in South Africa.

- Deployment of Cuban health specialists, including surgeons, to state hospitals to plug the critical shortages due to the exodus of these specialists to other countries or the private sector.

- Future exchange programme on the cards to be included in the academic joint co-operation agreement currently in place.

- Expansion of training to allow South African doctors trained in Cuba to specialise in family medicine so that they can assist in preventive and primary health care.

Major differences between the two
- Medical universities offer only one curriculum while South Africa's medical school each has their own, with all having to meet requirements set out by the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

- Cuban medical students are not allowed to even touch a patient until their sixth year of study, while South African students are allowed that level of interaction from their third year.

- The Cuban approach is largely based on preventive care which is medical doctor based, while the South African system is largely based on the nursing profession.

- Cuba has eliminated a number of diseases through their public health immunisation programmes, resulting in a scarcity of diseases like TB and HIV. South Africa's rates are among the highest in the world.