Cuba-trained med­i­cal stu­dents ready to serve

Vuk'uzenzele - - Health -

THE STU­DENTS will com­plete their sixth-year stud­ies and in­te­gra­tion into the South African health sys­tem.

Zazi Zulu is one of the 260 fifth-year med­i­cal stu­dents who are pleased to be back home af­ter hav­ing left South Africa to study medicine in Cuba six years ago.

He left his home in the Um­gun­gundlovu Dis­trict of KwaZulu-Natal in 2012 as a starry-eyed 17-year-old ma­tric­u­lant to pur­sue his dream of study­ing medicine.

Zulu was one of the bur­sary re­cip­i­ents who was awarded an op­por­tu­nity to study abroad as part of the Nel­son Man­dela Fidel Cas­tro (NMFC) med­i­cal col­lab­o­ra­tion pro­gramme of the De­part­ment of Health.

Through the pro­gramme, the de­part­ment awards qual­i­fy­ing and de­serv­ing stu­dents an op­por­tu­nity to study medicine in Cuba free of charge.

The NMFC pro­gramme was es­tab­lished by pres­i­dents Nel­son Man­dela and Fidel Cas­tro in 1996 as part of the var­i­ous bi­lat­eral agree­ments be­tween South Africa and Cuba.

The pro­gramme was es­tab­lished to ad­dress the over-con­cen­tra­tion of health per­son­nel in ur­ban ar­eas and in the ex­clu­sion­ary pri­vate sec­tor; in­suf­fi­cient per­son­nel who were also not in pos­ses­sion of the nec­es­sary train­ing and the under-pro­vi­sion of health care in ru­ral and peri-ur­ban ar­eas, as well as in­for­mal set­tle­ments. Health Min­is­ter Aaron Mot­soaledi re­cently wel­comed the stu­dents back into the coun­try.

Min­is­ter Mot­soaledi was ac­com­pa­nied by his Deputy Joe Phaahla to­gether with fam­i­lies and loved ones to wel­come the fifth-year med­i­cal stu­dents at a cer­e­mony held at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

The stu­dents will com­plete their sixth-year stud­ies and in­te­gra­tion into the South African health sys­tem. They will spend the next 18 months of study at var­i­ous South African uni­ver­si­ties, and will then be dis­patched to their dis­tricts of ori­gin to start work­ing as doc­tors.

Upon ar­rival, Zulu said he was happy to be re­united with his fam­ily of ten mem­bers. Each one of them wore a spe­cially-de­signed black T-shirt with the words ‘Dr Zazi Zulu’ and car­ried a big ban­ner with the mes­sage: “Wel­come Back, Mageba.”

“I am very pleased with the warm re­cep­tion that we have re­ceived upon our re­turn. I am look­ing for­ward to ap­ply­ing all the knowl­edge that I have gained in Cuba. I want to use my skills and ex­per­tise and work with dili­gence for the ben­e­fit of my fel­low com­pa­tri­ots,” he said.

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