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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Over 450 med students who studied in Cuba to work in disadvantaged communities

Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo presided over the graduation ceremony for the students who studied at Cuban universities.

South Africa has welcomed over 450 new South African medical students from Cuba into the public health sector.

The graduation ceremony was hosted at the University of Cape Town.

Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, presided over the graduation ceremony on Friday for the students who completed their studies at Cuban universities through the Nelson Mandela/Fidel Castro Medical Collaboration Programme.

This was followed by an 18-months integration programme at local universities.

Disadvantaged communities

Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said medical students will be placed at various facilities.

“They will be placed to various public health facilities across the country, primarily in historically disadvantaged communities and undeserved areas”

SA/Cuba relationship

Dhlomo congratulated the medical graduates and reminded them that their role is to save lives.

He expressed gratitude to the families and relatives who withstood and endured the absence of their children, as they had to stay in Cuba to acquire the skills.

“Today we confirm that this relationship and partnership between South Africa and Cuba has yielded huge human capacity for the medical fraternity, particularly medical doctors.

“This is a remarkable milestone that cannot be hidden or forgotten given the impact that it has in South Africa.

“This is the legacy and the living testimony of the impact of this relationship brought by our stalwarts,” Dhlomo said.

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However, the graduation of the new doctors was criticised after almost the same number of local newly graduated doctors were waiting to be placed in health facilities in 2022.

Earlier this year, the health department told jobless doctors to look elsewhere for employment despite the country’s critical shortage of doctors, with barely one doctor for 1 000 patients.

Responding to a parliamentary question In May last year, Health Minister Joe Phaahla revealed that the country’s doctor-to-patient ratio was 1:3 per 198 patients and 0,31 doctors per 1 000 patients, and the number of doctors is on the decrease.

ALSO READ: Unemployed doctors ‘too choosy’ over where they work, says government

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