EIGHT young Jamaicans have been awarded medical scholarships to study in Cuba for the 2016-2017 academic year, under the Cuba-Jamaica Cooperation Programme.
Cuban ambassador to Jamaica Bernardo Guanche Hernandez presented the scholarships to the awardees on June 24 at the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in St Andrew.
In his remarks, Guanche said the programme has helped to strengthen the friendship and cooperative ties between Cuba and Jamaica over the years.
He noted that Cuban institutions have kept that programme going despite Cuba’s economic challenges.
“Cuba has also offered and continues to offer cooperation, mainly in the fields of health and education, in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. Not only Cuban teachers have rendered their services in many developing countries, but also many students from those countries have studied and graduated, free of charge, in Cuban universities,” he added.
The ambassador congratulated the recipients of the scholarships and encouraged them to do their best.
Apart from studying medicine, Guanche said the awardees will learn the Spanish language and interact with Cubans.
In his remarks, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Kevin Harvey said that 300 students had applied for the scholarship programme.
He noted that the cooperation programme has not only improved the relations between Jamaica and Cuba, but has augmented the service provided in Jamaica’s health sector.
Dr Harvey pointed to many interventions and surgeries done by Cuban physicians over the years to assist Jamaicans.
“We have had this long-standing arrangement and relationship and sharing. Once we have an issue, Cuba is always there to stand by us,” he said.
Dr Harvey told the awardees that acquiring the medical skills should not only be their main focus, but they should also learn how to communicate with patients, another aspect of their training.
“One of the challenges we have now in the health sector is the limited interaction between the physician and the patient. We do not talk to our patients as much as we should and we do not provide that counselling support that the patient requires,” he said.
“Learn about the medicine, learn the drugs to be prescribed, learn how to examine, and learn how to speak to your patients,” Dr Harvey urged.