The Cuban government offers places to thousands
of foreign students in its medical
What we want in the Latin American School of
Medicine is that the students ? become
impregnated with the same doctrine in which our
doctors are educated, with that total devotion
to their noble future profession, for the
doctor is like a shepherd, a priest, a
missionary, a crusader of the people’s health
and physical and mental well-being.- Fidel
MORE people now know about Cuba’s excellent
public medical system, thanks to Michael
Moore’s SICKO. In the documentary, Moore takes
a group of 9/11 volunteers to Cuba to receive
treatment that they had been denied by the
United States government.
BATISTA: We do not place students of one
nationality in one institution.
In fact, the communist country has a unique,
government-funded programme to train medical
students from around the world.
According to Cuban embassy first secretary
Florentino Batista, seven Malaysians joined the
programme for the first time last year.
This year, a new batch of five students left
for Cuba earlier this month under the medical
scholarship programme which was set up in
In the beginning, the students were mostly from
Cuba’s Latin American neighbours.
“We have expanded the programme to include more
countries in Africa and Asia. This is our
contribution to training their human
resources,” says Batista.
There are currently 22,893 foreign students
under the medical scholarship programme,
including at the Latin American School of
Besides training foreign students, the Cuban
government has also set up medical faculties
overseas, in Yemen, Venezuela, Timor Leste,
Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea and
Medical students make up the largest number of
university graduates, second only to teachers.
Cuba has over 80,000 doctors.
According to Batista, the medical scholarship
programme is entirely free as all costs are
subsidised by the Cuban government.
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro has iconic
status in the country. - AFP pic
This includes tuition fees, food and
Under the programme, which spans six years, the
students are sent to 14 different faculties of
medicine in Cuba.
The first year is akin to pre-university. As
the medium of instruction is
Spanish, those who are
not proficient in the language need
to spend an additional 22 weeks
to brush up on it. They then spend the rest of
the year studying advanced Biology and
Chemistry in Spanish before starting their
By SIMRIT KAUR / The