More Cuban doctors to serve in Guyana
Guyana Chronicle
May 3, 2002

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ANOTHER batch of Cuban doctors has arrived here to serve at hospitals around Guyana under the cooperation programme between the two countries.

An initial 11 from a total of 32 professionals from the Cuban Medical Brigade yesterday met Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy at the ministry in Georgetown. Cuban Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. Jose M. Inclan was also at the meeting.

The other members of the brigade are due here next month, officials said.

The doctors include General Family Practitioners, two urologists, two pathologists, an Orthopedic surgeon and two gynaecologists, and will be stationed at the Georgetown Hospital and regional hospitals and rural health centres.

During their two-year stint here, they will serve at Mabaruma and Moruca (Barima/Waini); Kwakani (Upper Berbice); Leguan, Wakenaam and Suddie (Essequibo), Mahdia (Potaro/Siparuni) and Lethem in the Rupununi.

After meeting the Health Minister the doctors had an orientation session with Director of Regional Health Services, Dr. Khemdat Umadatt who briefed them on how the regional health system functions in Guyana, since most would be posted to medical institutions outside the capital Georgetown.

Ramsammy, in welcoming the doctors to Guyana, noted that over the last 30 years the health sector here has benefitted enormously from its relationship with Cuba. In the period when Guyana's health sector was in crisis, Cuban doctors have helped to sustain it, he pointed out.

He said that although there have been improvements in the sector over the years, the Cuban doctors have remained an indispensable part of the service.

Many areas which were not served before are now benefitting from services by the doctors from Cuba, he said.

Ramsammy said he is happy that with this new batch there would be significant improvement in the delivery of community health care in many rural and hinterland areas.

He pointed out that in the past those locations had doctors but there were still difficulties serving all the communities.

"They have been providing important and very significant services to our people and we are very grateful", the Health Minister said.

He told members of the brigade: "we consider you as an important part of us, an extension of us."

He said the health sector will continue to rely on the services of the Cubans and asked that the Cuban Government be patient as Guyana strives to build its local capacity.

The Cuban Government has been offering several scholarships to a number of young Guyanese to pursue studies in the medical profession, which would help to build the local capacity here.

Ramsammy noted that 70 scholarships have been offered recently and said that within the next five years, the more than 200 that would offered will go a far way in lessening Guyana's dependence on Cuban doctors being sent here to serve.

"It is not that we would refuse to have you here, but we hope that one day we can build our own capacity just like Cuba so that one day we would be in a position to offer help to countries less fortunate than ours".

He said that in the selection process for medical students to go to Cuba within the next few weeks, a minimum of six would be chosen for training in specialist areas. Three would be studying Gynaecology while the other three would be doing General Surgery.

Ramsammy noted that although the Georgetown Hospital continues to benefit from the services of Cuban doctors, he is happy that out of the batch, doctors would be stationed at the New Amsterdam Hospital where there have been some problems.

There are three Cuban doctors at the New Amsterdam Hospital who are near the end of their stint but those positions will be filled with others from the new batch, the minister said. (JAIME HALL)