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Posted May 17, 2004 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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Health for export: Cuba, though cash-strapped, provides medical training even for students from the US

Tom Fawthrop

In John Lennon Park in Havana, Cubans eagerly study the inscription from the song “Imagine” at the foot of his statue: “You may say I’m a dreamer,/ But I’m not the only one.” Lennon has become a cultural icon in this city of dreams. But for some Cubans, the socialist dream has turned sour over four decades of a US-imposed trade embargo and Fidel Castro’s grip on power. Nobody had ever imagined a “socialist heaven” based on the hell of an economic blockade.

Such contradictions are rife in Cuban society. A housing crisis, erratic transport and queues for nearly everything echo those of many threadbare third world economies. And yet Cuba is in a class apart. It may not have gold reserves and dollars, but it is wealthy in medical and educational achievements. The island has the best health system in Latin America—the envy of less-developed nations—and despite the daily struggle of many to put food on the table, life expectancy is similar to that in the UK. Cuba is one of the few developing countries to manufacture and supply its Aids patients with antiretroviral drugs, although the shortage of more basic medicines can be so acute that patients quip: “It is easier to get a kidney transplant in Cuba than a simple aspirin.

Despite being cash-strapped, Cuba is a major aid donor to other developing countries, sending more medical missions abroad than any other country. There are currently about 4,610 Cuban health workers providing humanitarian aid in 65 countries, surpassing even the efforts of Medecins Sans Frontieres.

When Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America in October 1998, western governments responded with a short-term Band-Aid approach. But Castro declared that Cuba would provide assistance for the longer term. He argued that the countries that had been hit—Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti and Nicaragua—must have their own doctors. A former naval college in Havana was renovated and converted into the new Latin American Medical School. The school’s 7,000 foreign students take special courses in coping with epidemics, emergencies and natural disasters.

The offer of six years’ free medical training has even been extended to would be doctors from the richest nation on earth. More than 50 US students are now studying medicine in a country that figures in Bush’s “axis of evil”—a great embarrassment for the world’s superpower. As long as these students are hosted by Cuba and don’t spend any money in the country, the US Treasury is unable to prosecute them under the Trading With the Enemy Act, the legislation still used to punish American tourists who defy Washington s blockade.

Most US students are African Americans, such as 26-year-old Cordy Brown from Mississippi, who would have had very little chance of ever gaining admission to a medical school back home. Wing Wu, a Chinese-American from Minnesota now in her third year, explained: “US minorities are getting smaller and smaller representation in US medical schools; there’s no way I could afford medical school in the US.” Mississippi is one of the many poor parts of the US where few doctors want to work, and these students have come to Cuba with the intention of going back and serving in their local communities.

Can Cuba really afford to provide such generous aid, especially to the US? Dr Luis Cordoba Vargas, a former deputy health minister, explained: don’t think Cuba can afford to do it; it is a political gesture based oil altruism. Many western countries take medical graduates from the third world to prop up their own health systems; we have taken the lead in Latin America to provide these countries with more doctors.”

Leonardo Mauricio, a Cuban teacher, stoutly defended the policy: “Solidarity does not mean much from a rich country; real solidarity comes from sharing the little you have with those who have even less.” This solidarity is certainly reflected in the school’s campus. Home to 24 different nationalities, it is a remarkable experiment, not just in medical education, but also in international living.

US doctors and medical students accept that there are major differences between a Cuban medical education and their curriculum at home. Dr Michael Garvey, on a US delegation visiting Havana, characterised the Cuban approach as “a no-thrills education living in dormitories, but with excellent teachers focused on the holistic needs of the patient and a strong orientation to preventive medicine. American medical schools are too focused on high-tech diagnostics at the expense of the doctor-patient relationship.”

The distinction between Cuban and American training is clear to Wing Wu: “Here we learn that healthcare is a human right and that patients have to be treated as human beings.” In the US, access to healthcare is not a human right: 43 million citizens have no health insurance and deprived communities have few doctors. While Cuba’s prestige in Latin America has never been higher, thanks to its general generosity and specific initiatives such as the medical school, the country’s relations with the EU have plummeted since it cracked down on 75 dissidents and executed three hijackers earlier this year. The EU jumped into line with the US and imposed its own brand of discriminatory sanctions against Cuba, including downgrading ministerial relations and cutting off funding for cultural links.
But as it grows ever clearer that globalisation and free markets cause declining public health in the developing world, the EU should consider backing Cuba’s dream to “globalise free healthcare and solidarity”, and put people’s lives before pleasing the US.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on July 14, 2004 by Atakelti Abraha

    i am from third world who studied public health first degree now i am interested to study my second degree in cuba for both educational and cultural experience.
      Any organization interested in supporting free scholar ship related to my field is welcomed.
    thankyou


  2. Follow up post #2 added on July 14, 2004 by Atakelti Abraha

    i am from third world who studied public health first degree now i am interested to study my second degree in cuba for both educational and cultural experience.
      Any organization interested in supporting free scholar ship related to my field is welcomed.
    thankyou


  3. Follow up post #3 added on July 14, 2004 by Atakelti Abraha

    i have my first degree in public health & i want to continue in your area .pls e-mail me if you have space in any post basic training related to health.


  4. Follow up post #4 added on September 19, 2004 by Daniel Gonzalez

    I would like and application if possible to the cuban Medical school.

                  thank you


  5. Follow up post #5 added on September 20, 2004 by SDouglass

    I am a medical student in the US and I want to travel to Cuba this March for a medical exchange.  I would like to get in contact with a Cuban medical school that would like to host us.  Several of us are fluent in Spanish.


  6. Follow up post #6 added on October 15, 2004 by Michael Quinn

    As a trained and experienced environmental engineer, my first wish and current goal is to become a physician and combine the two disciplines in public service.
    I have had no encouragement from Canadian medical schools and misleading encouragement elsewhere.
    I am interested in learning whether I am eligible as an older Canadian citizen to attend the free Cuban medical school developed by F. Castro. I have no problem meeting the medicial program’ goals. Since my career goal is to serve in underprivileged communities, especially with children, regardless of location, our goals appear compatible.


  7. Follow up post #7 added on October 29, 2004 by Ibrahim kedir

    dear…...
    First of all I want to introduce about my self my name is Ibrahim kedir from Ethiopia age 20 sex male Iím learn in private school filed computer science ,I have more and more interest to learn in your country but I Donít know any more for your country scholarship presses and also what I expect from me to contact with you and is there any presses expect from me if you have any suggestion and any comment you will gave me, I resave on this postal address and please send me your school magazine

                             

                            Ibrahim kedir

                              kkk

                            Po, box 1639

                            Code   1250

                            Addis Ababa

                            Ethiopia


  8. Follow up post #8 added on November 12, 2004 by addis

    ferst of all i want toroduce about my self my name is addis tesfa mareyam from Ethiopia I am 20 yers old i habe a diplom in markating mangemet any organization interested in supporting fee scholar ship related to my field is welcomed thank you


  9. Follow up post #9 added on November 16, 2004 by Mohammed

    my first choice is to be physician due to my back ground abilities & interts.


  10. Follow up post #10 added on November 16, 2004 by Mohammed

    I am a student of third year in pharmacy at one of the universities in Ethiopia &i want to have my second degree from cuba in case i get free shcolar ship.


  11. Follow up post #11 added on November 20, 2004 by Jerlene Brown

    I am not a US citizen. I am from Jamaica and i would like to know if i can still get a scholarship even if i satisfy the entire criteria except the us citizen part. My mailing address is Dover, Windsor Castle P.O. Portland


  12. Follow up post #12 added on November 21, 2004 by M Ouellet

    Can someone please tell me how to get an application to this school/program? Please send the information to the above e mail or leave info on this site.


  13. Follow up post #13 added on December 01, 2004 by Eugene Murphy

    I am from Washington DC, United States of America and I am definitely interested in studying abroad in Cuba.  I am currently a full time student studying Community Health (STD and HIV Prevention).  However, I have a passion for Spanish and I want to persue a career in interpreting and translating.  I would like to attend a Cuban University to study Spanish Literature.  I feel that there is no better way to learn a foreign language than to surround yourself by that language day in and day out.  If someone can please help me I would really appreciate it.  My address is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 


  14. Follow up post #14 added on December 02, 2004 by Joseph Asbury

    I have a friend with a daughter in Guatemala who is very interested in attending medical school in Cuba. Does anyone know anything about scholarship opportunities to students in other Latin American countries? Thanks.


  15. Follow up post #15 added on December 04, 2004 by siyoum

      I would like to say thanks first.dear, i am a universty very compitetor student in ethiopia.to tell you frankly i have some hiden talent and gift.but my country is not the right place to extract and show my ability. this is why i need others which has willing for me to continue my education.i hope you will be the one who gives the chance.
        soon to hear.THANKS!!


  16. Follow up post #16 added on May 01, 2005 by JESSICA with 2 total posts

    Hi my name is jessica i am a 19 year old canadian citizen and i am currently following a course in physiotherapy in a european country however my heart lies in being a physician. Consequently, my advanced level in biology,intermediate level in physics and ordinary level in chemistry is not enough to follow a course in medicine(i also have other non-health related qualifications). Therefore, I have resorted to studying another health profession but i cannot help but feel that i deserve a chance at being a doctor because it has been my soul desire for many years. If anyone has any information to help me please e-mail me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .   


  17. Follow up post #17 added on June 02, 2005 by Eduardo Lima with 4 total posts

    Hi my name is Eduardo Lima I born in Brazil, but I live in U.S. and in two weeks I will be a Nursing Assistent. And I want to know more about the Medical Scholarship. Could you guys please send me anything about it to my e-mail. THANK YOU.


  18. Follow up post #18 added on June 03, 2005 by Eduardo Lima with 4 total posts

    I am 20 years old. My e-mail is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


  19. Follow up post #19 added on June 21, 2005 by Nordia with 2 total posts

    I am interested in studying the medical sciences I would prefer nursing though as that is where my passion lies, but I would relish the opprtunity to study medicine. i would love to go to Cuba and study but i need more information…please send me additional information so that i can act quickly…this would really be a dream come true as Cuban Doctors are well respected in Jamaica.


  20. Follow up post #20 added on July 05, 2005 by Baldwin with 2 total posts

    it has always been my desire to study medicine,anyone who lyk to help me,even with scholarships please respond


  21. Follow up post #21 added on October 10, 2005 by solyent_green with 2 total posts

    Could you please provide me with information as to the medical school scholarship program?  While my professional focus and Masters studies are in Computers and Engineering, my ambitions have changed to one of assisting the aspirations of humanity.  My experiences with U.S. doctors have shown that gross negligence and arrogance prevails.  One would find me with substantial committment to bettering the lives of the people were I trained in kind.


  22. Follow up post #22 added on October 16, 2005 by Christine Robinson with 4 total posts

    I do not yet have the background in science to be admitted to the Cuban Medical Program, as I am an undergraduate first-year.  My concentrations are Biology and Spanish.  I looked into studying abroad in Cuba; and several people told me that it is no longer possible for American undergraduates to study in Cuba.  Is this true?  If it is not true, PLEASE send me information.  Thank you.


  23. Follow up post #23 added on October 16, 2005 by want to study medice in cuba with 8 total posts

    Hello,
    I am an 18 year old female form the Ivory Coast and have just completed high school.I am looking for a schorlaship to study medicine in Cuba.Can you please send me some information as to what to do to achieve my goals?.
    Thank You in advance


  24. Follow up post #24 added on October 18, 2005 by Christine Robinson with 4 total posts

    My e-mail address is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  How do I access comments to what I have already posted?


  25. Follow up post #25 added on October 31, 2005 by lavinea with 2 total posts

    i am a third year student at the university of the west indies,mona and i am pursuing a double major in biochemistry/zoology.i am also a jamaican by birth. after finishing my degree i would love to obtain a scholarship so that i can study medicine in cuba. it would indeed be a wonderful opportunity for me. please send me information as to how i should go about the process of applying.

    thank you


  26. Follow up post #26 added on November 02, 2005 by asamoah gyamfi michael with 4 total posts

    IAM MICHAEL AND FOUND IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRY.IAM INTELIGENT AND HAVE COMPLETED SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL.IAM LOOKING FOR A MEDICAL SCHOOL IN CUBA TO ATTEND.SCHOLARSHIP IS NECCESARY.MY MAIL IS .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


  27. Follow up post #27 added on November 02, 2005 by asamoah gyamfi michael with 4 total posts

    IAM MICHAEL AND FOUND IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRY.IAM INTELIGENT AND HAVE COMPLETED SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL.IAM LOOKING FOR A MEDICAL SCHOOL IN CUBA TO ATTEND.SCHOLARSHIP IS NECCESARY.IAM FROM GHANA AND PASSED OBTAINED GRADE 10 IN MY SENIOR SECNDARY SCHOOL CERTIFICATE EXAMS.I CAN BE REACHED THROUGH .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


  28. Follow up post #28 added on November 11, 2005 by Lluwellyn with 4 total posts

    My name is Lluwellyn a student and citizen of South Africa. I am currently studying Psychology and am in my final year. My dream is to be a doctor and i would love to study in Cuba. unfortunately I do not possess the information concerning procedure, and am hoping that someone could supply me with info.


  29. Follow up post #29 added on November 12, 2005 by seyoum with 2 total posts

    i am from third world who studied public civil engeenering diploma now i am interested to study my first degree in cuba for both educational and cultural experience.
    Any organization interested in supporting free scholar ship related to my field is welcomed.
                    Thanks!


  30. Follow up post #30 added on November 13, 2005 by Lluwellyn with 4 total posts

    How do i access comments that are posted to me


  31. Follow up post #31 added on November 13, 2005 by want to study medice in cuba with 8 total posts

    want to study medice in cuba Hello,
    I am an 18 year old female form the Ivory Coast and have just completed high school.I am looking for a schorlaship to study medicine in Cuba.Can you please send me some information as to what to do to achieve my goals?.
    Thank You in advance


  32. Follow up post #32 added on November 15, 2005 by tonymen with 2 total posts

    ANY BODY HAS THE INFORMATION TO APPLY TO THE MEDICAL SCHOOL IN CUBA??? REPLY to : .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  OR TONY POBox 4891 MARIETTA , GA 30061


  33. Follow up post #33 added on November 20, 2005 by shohel

    i am from Bangladesh who have compleated medical graduation (MBBS) from Dhaka University first degree now i am interested to study for my second degree in cuba for Masters in public health.
    Any organization interested in supporting free scholar ship related to my field is welcomed.
    thankyou

    My email : .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


  34. Follow up post #34 added on December 22, 2005 by Eneji palma

    HELLO I AM A HIGH SCHOOLGRADUATE FROM NIGERIA AND I WOULD LOVE TO STUDY MEDICINE AND SURGERY IN CUBA PLEASE COULD YOU LINK ME UP WITH YOUR SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM SO I CAN HELP MY COMMUNITY TO DEVELOP THE AILLING HEALTHCARE SYSTEM AT HOME. PLEASE I WOULD BE PATIENTLY WAITING FOR A REPLY. BELOW ARE MY CONTACT E-MAIL ADDRESSES. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) AND .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) ONCE AGAIN GOD BLESS FIDEL CASTRO THE GREAT, GOD BLESS CUBA AND MAY THEY CONTINUE TO WAX STRONGER AND STRONGER DESPITE THE EMBARGO IMPOSED ON THEM. THANK YOU.


  35. Follow up post #35 added on February 07, 2006 by faith mutete

    I am a student studying a bachelor of social science in economics and psychology at Africa University or scholarship to do a masters degree in public health administration, peace,psychology   or any related masters degree to study in cuba or any other country , im willing to start a masters degree this year any time after april 2006 ,im willing to offer some employment service to a company which sponsor me

    Im hungry for education and im interested in studying so that one day i will be in a position to help in developing Africa and other nations .


  36. Follow up post #36 added on April 01, 2006 by alonge ayodele

    MY NAME IS ALONGE AYODELE, AGED 30 AND CITIZEN OF NIGERIA IN WEST AFRICA. MY QUALIFICATION IS HIGHER NATIONAL DIPLOMA IN ACCUNTANCY. I LIKE TO STUDY POSTGRADUATE DIPLOMA IN FINANCE OR ANY OTHER SIMILAR COURSE IN CUBA OR OTHER COUNTRY.
    I WILL BE GLAD IF MY REQUEST IS CONSIDERED BY YOUR REPUTABLE ORGANISATION.
    THANK YOU.


  37. Follow up post #37 added on April 01, 2006 by alonge ayodele

    MY E MAIL IS .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


  38. Follow up post #38 added on May 08, 2006 by Bizuayehu Mebratu

    n Mond May 09,2006,Bizuayehu Mebratu   Iam from Ethiopia studying my first degree in Nursing and Iam a final year student. Here in our country there is no
    Msc in Nursing.Now Iam interested to study my second degree in CUBA for Nursing and other health related fields.Any organizations interested in supporting Free scholar ship related my field is welcomed.
    I will be glad if my request is considered by your reputable organization.
             
      THANK YOU.   
    My Email is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


  39. Follow up post #39 added on June 03, 2006 by okwuwe cyril

    my name is okwuwe cyril ify ,aged 22 and a citizen of Nigeria in west Africa.In three month time by Gods grace i will be getting my bachelor of science(BSC) in the delta state university in nigeria .nevertheless i still have these strong affinity to study medicine abroad but no finance.please i want you to help me.i will be forever gratefull if my request is considered.God bless you.


  40. Follow up post #40 added on September 15, 2006 by wondimu bogale

    friday ,14,2006 Iam fro Ethiopia graduated diploma .Now I am interested to study Bsc in Nutrition in CUBA.I for ward and thanks alot.


  41. Follow up post #41 added on November 27, 2006 by lih

    ANY BODY HAS THE INFORMATION TO APPLY TO THE MEDICAL SCHOOL IN CUBA???


  42. Follow up post #42 added on July 13, 2007 by Mahalia Jean-Bart

    I am Haitian and currently live in Haiti.  I graduated from an American High School in Haiti at the top of my class.  I speak little to no Spanish but am able to speak and write fluently in English, French and Creole.  I wanted to know if it was possible for me to receive an undergraduate education in Cuba followed by acceptance into medical school there?


  43. Follow up post #43 added on July 13, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    We’re sorry that we have not been able to help people get answers to questions about getting into medical school in Cuba.

    So, we have decided to close this article to comments and open a thread in the forum titled Medical school in Cuba.

    If anyone has any comments they would like to offer or would like to add their name to that list, go to the link above.

    You will have to register as a member to post.



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