19 November 2012

South Africa: Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize On Cuba Medical Students

press release

KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize has revealed that a group of medical students who left the province for medical training in Cuba will come back and assist with the roll out of the National Health Insurance (NHI).

He was speaking today at King Shaka International Airport in a farewell function organised by the MEC for Health Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo for 115 students who have been selected to study medicine in Cuba as part of the South Africa-Cuba Medical Training Programme that started 16 years ago.

"Many of our people received military training in Cuba as we fought against the apartheid government. Now that we have defeated apartheid, our main focus is the fight against the burden of disease."

"These students have been selected from all districts in the province with the assistance of mayors and District Aids Councils. They are fully aware that they all represent the aspirations of poor people who cannot afford medical aid in order to access quality healthcare."

"The disparity in resource distribution between the public and private health sector and consequent inequities in access to care continues unabated. We have a responsibility as government to ensure that barriers to access to quality health care for all are removed. The establishment of NHI is a vehicle to achieve this goal."

"Importantly, the provincial government regard these students as asserts that will transform public health in the province and the whole country. Upon completion of their studies, they will be at the forefront of the implementation of NHI in various health institutions. 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 this regard."

"KwaZulu-Natal has been ardently implementing key interventions and activities as part of the preparatory work for the implementation of NHI. Taking advantage of the NHI pilot districts that were announced, which in KZN are Umzinyathi and Umgungundlovu, the provincial government decided to add a further district to focus on matters pertaining to institutional and organisational arrangements over and above the provisions of the NHI grant framework. As part of the pilot process, we also have Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital and King Edward VIII Academic Hospitals testing components that focus on improving financial management capacity and systems."

"About 143 students have left for Cuba already and more than 60 will leave over the next two days. Our main target as KZN is to train more medical students in order to increase the current output of doctors produced each year by this country."

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