‘What’s the point of studying in Cuba for six years if they have to study in South Africa again?’

a group of 13 students Medicine military South Africa who returned to his country a few weeks ago after graduating from that degree in Cuba He is being severely criticized. it because Military officials wonder whether the time and money invested in training them is justified So that, once they return to their country, they have to spend one and a half years adapting to the local health system.

Darren Oliver, director of the African Defense Review Agency (ADR), questioned why, after six years of study on the island, 13 members of the South African Armed Forces (SAMHS) military health service personnel would undergo 18. -One-month “integration programme” before qualifying as medical officers and general practitioners.

As he told South African media web defense SAMHS Corporate Communications Colonel RP Makopo, Recent graduates will undertake internships and community service in three military hospitals in South AfricaAs provided by the Health Professions Council (HPC) before they are admitted to practice their work.

According to Olivier, “SAMHS internal training programs are very fast for most subjects and already fully comply with South African health qualifications”, so this practice, common in many countries where graduates are awarded, should be reviewed. Learn how to work in your countries’ health systems.

The official went further, asking: “What do the training agreements with the Cubans mean for a SANDF with liquidity problems?”

Although the note does not say how much it costs the South African Army to train its military doctors on the island, the truth is These courses are part of the Thucano Project, an agreement between Cuba and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Pretoria (FAR). Which covers many areas of cooperation, and brings income to millionaires in Havana.

Thucano, which began with the export to South Africa of Cuban mechanics and technicians who would help with the maintenance and recovery of local military technology, has over the years expanded to training in disciplines as diverse as aircraft maintenance, repair and maintenance. Dental and medical equipment, as well as shooting instructions, etc.

These programs led to South African officials traveling to Cuba to attend various training courses. Overall it would have cost South Africa more than 2.6 billion rand (about $138 million) over its 13 years of existence.

Memorization web defense that he The Thusano project in its current form Expires in January 2025So its ministerial review, requested last April by the minister of defense and military veterans, Thandi Modise, could include taking into account Olivier’s complaints.

Modise said during a parliamentary session in 2023 that, Once Thusano’s review is complete, “decisions will be made on the various subcontracts, which ones to terminate and which ones to continue.” The issue has not been mentioned publicly again since that date.

In late 2023, opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Hasina Ismail, who is a member of the Health Portfolio Committee, questioned the Nelson Mandela-Fidel Castro Medical Cooperation Program created by both politicians. In 1996, due to how expensive it is and the subsequent difficulties for scholarship holders to enter the South African health system, only 2,617 graduates have been awarded to that country.

The policy statements came after an investigation by that country’s parliament, which determined that the program has been ineffective in solving the chronic shortage of health workers.

According to the local health department, Tuition per student during high school in Cuba costs $2,000 per year.The center of which is learning the Spanish language; Rs 5,000 annually during the next five years of medical studies. Also an annual stipend of Rs 2,400 per student.

However, a more detailed report presented by officials and published by MPs revealed Today, the cost of high school is $14,872 (divided into 6,000 for tuition; 6,022 for food; 2,400 for stipends, and 450 as the average cost of a medical education).

This cost increases to $21,422 annually in the first and second years; in the third and fourth years, at 20,422; But in the fifth year it increases to $22,522.

Also added to this South African medical students training in Cuba must complete their studies upon returning to South African universities.With a cost of more than $15,000 for the 2022-23 period.

Following parliamentary consultation carried out in the South African legislature in 2019, it became possible to determine this amount The cost of training a doctor in Cuba is twice that of the African country.

Saying that the program does not appear to be the best option for South African students, Ismail reminded that during the COVID-19 pandemic Pretoria has left those students in a precarious situation, away from their families and with limited access to resources. Had given.

“These families were forced to provide suitcases with food and other necessities for students stranded in Cuba,” Ismail said.

In addition to all the above, Incidents involving South African students in Cuba are frequent. Last July, the Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences suspended for three years a medical student from the African country who allegedly held two Cuban women against their will after he was involved in the theft of their cell phones.

In November 2021, an attack by Cuban police officers against a group of South African medical students at Villa Clara University went viral. According to the South African press, these students were part of the Nelson Mandela-Fidel Castro medical cooperation programme.

Despite all of the above, in March 2023 the government of South Africa, a close ally of Havana, announced that it would provide scholarships for architecture and electrical, mechanical and civil engineering students in Cuba.

The Cuban regime never mentions how much it charges for the training it provides to foreign students., most of them are on scholarships from their governments or from public institutions in their country of origin, receiving cheaper prices on the island than at universities around the world. Instead, Havana promotes such courses as an example of solidarity.

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