ON DAY two of his official state visit to Cuba, President Donald Ramotar visited the Latin American School of Medicine to meet Guyanese medical students, according to Cuba’s state news agency, Prensa Latina.
The agency reported that the president highlighted to the students the opportunity offered by the Cuban Government that equips Guyanese with necessary skills.
From the first batch of 500 students to have ventured off to study, 69 are back home pursuing their final year exams. It is anticipated that 278 will be returning next year.
Upon completion of their studies and 18 – month internship, the newly trained doctors are bound by a contract that requires them to serve the Guyana Government for a period of five years maximum for those in the medical field, and two to three years in other areas of study.
The government is satisfied that the programme is meeting the objective of fostering and maintaining a qualified workforce, particularly in areas like the hinterland, where the needs are greatest.
Apart from Cuba, scholarship options are also available through the Commonwealth, the Organisation of American States (OAS), India, Venezuela and a few Arab countries.
At present, there are 140 countries where Guyanese students are pursuing scholarships Minister of Public Service Dr. Jennifer Westford had reported in a recent televised interview.
The Cuban scholarship programme dates back to a state visit by Guyana’s former President Bharrat Jagdeo to Cuba, where he met then leader of the island, Fidel Castro, and secured a pact for scholarships to the Spanish-speaking island, retinal surgeries for Guyanese patients, a state- of- the -art eye care centre, and four diagnostic and treatment facilities.
With President Ramotar’s first official state visit, it is hoped that the four – decade old bilateral relationship between Cuba and Guyana will be strengthened.
President Ramotar’s agenda in Cuba included a meeting with high-level authorities, and paying tribute to Jose Marti, a National Hero.
Prensa Latina also reported that the Guyanese Head of State supported demands for the lifting of the 50 – year economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed on the island by the United States.