Cuban training to 'help national health'
20 November 2012
A group of medical students who left for training in Cuba on Monday will be able to
assist with the roll-out of South Africa's National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme
when they return, says KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize.
Mkhize was speaking at King Shaka International Airport in Durban during a farewell
function for the 115 students who were selected to study medicine in Cuba as part
of the South Africa-Cuba Medical Training Programme.
The programme was started 16 years ago.
Mkhize said the provincial government regarded the students as assets that would
transform public health in the province and the rest of country.
"Upon completion of their studies, they will be at the forefront of the implementation
of NHI in various health institutions," Mkhize said.
Improving the quality of health services
"For the public to use the publicly funded NHI services in the public and private
sector, the quality of health services must improve and these students will assist in
He added that the disparity in resource distribution between the public and private
health sector and consequent inequities in access to care continued and that
government had a responsibility to ensure that barriers to access to quality
health care for all were removed.
"These students have been selected from all districts in the province with the
assistance of mayors and district Aids Councils," he said.
"They are fully aware that they all represent the aspirations of poor people who
cannot afford medical aid in order to access quality healthcare."
About 143 students in the province have left for Cuba already and more than 60 are
expected to leave over the next two days.
Mkhize said the main target as the KwaZulu-Natal government was to train more
medical students in order to increase the current output of doctors produced each
year by the country.
KwaZulu-Natal has been ardently implementing key interventions and activities as
part of the preparatory work for the implementation of NHI.
As part of the pilot process, the province has also been testing components that
focus on improving financial management capacity and systems at the Inkosi Albert
Luthuli Hospital and King Edward VIII Academic Hospital.