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Criticism Over Training of South African Medical Students in Cuba

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Criticism Over Training of South African Medical Students in Cuba

A group of 13 students from South Africa who recently returned to their home country after graduating from medical school in Cuba are facing harsh criticism. The military authorities are questioning the value of the time and money spent training these students, only to have them undergo an 18-month “integration program” upon returning to South Africa.

The director of the African Defense Review Agency, Darren Olivier, has raised concerns about the need for the graduates to complete internships and community service at South Africa’s military hospitals before practicing medicine. These requirements, as outlined by the Health Professions Council, have led to criticism from Olivier, who argues that the internal training programs of the South African Military Health Service already comply with health qualifications.

The training of military doctors in Cuba is part of a larger agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba and South Africa, known as the Thusano Project. This collaboration, which includes training in various areas such as aircraft maintenance and medical equipment repair, has reportedly cost South Africa over $138 million.

Meanwhile, the effectiveness of the Nelson Mandela-Fidel Castro Medical Collaboration Program, which has provided only 2,617 graduates to South Africa, has been called into question. The high cost of tuition in Cuba, combined with additional expenses for food, stipends, and medical instruction, has led to concerns about the affordability and effectiveness of the program.

Despite these challenges, the South African government announced plans to provide scholarships in Cuba for students in architecture and engineering, furthering the country’s collaboration with the Cuban regime.

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While the Cuban government offers training to foreign students at cheaper prices than many universities around the world, concerns about the quality and effectiveness of these programs continue to be raised. The South African government and military authorities are currently reviewing the Thusano Project, prompting further discussion about the value and impact of these training agreements.

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