_: Efforts to improve Doctor patient contact in the North West Province received a potential boost with announcement by Health MEC Dr. Magome Masike that the province will this year send 100 students to study medicine in Cuba. This is a drastic improvement from 12 that was recruited in 2011.
The Province has 54 medical students from poor backgrounds who successfully completed their medical studies and are now serving their communities since inception of South Africa Cuba Medical programme in 1995. Nine more graduated on 3 August 2012 from Stellenbosch University. The availability of extra doctors means more and more communities especially in rural areas where most of them come from are able to be seen and treated by doctors.
The recruitment process of 100 students who departs for Cuba in September was highly competitive. Candidates were selected on the basis of academic excellence and commitment to serve the poorest communities upon completion of their studies.
Other criteria included a history of active involvement in their communities, and the potential to be a dedicated and caring doctor.
Priority was given to students from disadvantaged communities.
Bursary recipients had undergone a week long orientation at health facilities to familiarise themselves with medical practice and to get perspective of Cuba from those who studied medicine in Cuba before boarding a flight to Cuba.
The province continues to see steady progress in addressing related challenges of scares skills and training of health professionals.
“Shortage of medical professionals is a national problem but affects the poor and rural population the most. Through the South Africa and Cuba Medical Programme more and more medical professionals become available and this slowly but surely reduces doctor patient contact in health facilities mainly serving rural communities,” MEC Masike said.
MEC Masike will bid farewell to bursary recipients at Hotel School, Mmabatho tomorrow at 12h00. Members of the media are invited.