Cuba Has Trained 200 US Doctors

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Above photo: International students from ELAM march in May Day Parade in Havana. Bill Hackwell.

Despite the fact that every US administration since the triumph of the Revolution in January 1959 have carried out an armed, economic and psychological war against Cuba in an attempt to curtail its independence and sovereignty, the humanitarian policy developed by the Caribbean nation has made it possible, so far, for 200 young Americans to study and graduate as doctors on the island.

Cuba’s friendship with the people of the US has been longstanding and despite the fact that Washington has maintained a strong economic-financial blockade against that nation for 60 years, the government and its health institutions opened the doors of the prestigious Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) to forge North American doctors to serve back home where they are needed most.

As Cuba’s alternate representative to the UN, Ana Silvia Rodríguez Abascal, explained, “the students and graduates belong mainly to marginalized minorities and low-income families, most of whom when they return decide to work in their most vulnerable communities”.

ELAM was created by the Cuban government in 1999 following an initiative of the historical leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, due to a string of natural disasters suffered in several Latin American nations. Since then, it has graduated more than 29,600 physicians from over one hundred countries with the main objective being to provide quality health care in areas where there are no community clinics or health care professionals.

David Floyd, a doctor who graduated from the class of 2016-2017, recently expressed his gratitude to the leadership of the country, the Cuban people, the professors and the workers of that project, who exhibit an integration of people dedicated to a more humane world.

The young doctor said it was a wonderful experience, and he said he was impressed by the link between study and work, as opposed to the training one gets in the United States and other nations.

In Cuba you are trained by touching and learning about the patient, which is a symbol of humanism and solidarity with the sick. “In my country nobody helps another student because it is competitive, but in Cuba teachers or professors support the preparation of all students as a collective responsibility,” emphasized Floyd, who stayed in Cuba for seven years to get his degree.

In a conversation with Radio Habana Cuba, another young physician Graham Sowa, originally from Grapevine, Texas and a graduate of ELAM, rejected the accusations made by the U.S. government that his colleagues on the island are victims of human trafficking and highlighted the dozens of internationalist humanitarian missions they have carried out in different nations.

A few months ago, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) offered three million dollars to organizations that investigate, collect and analyze information related to alleged human rights violations of Cuban health personnel participating in medical missions abroad.

Sowa, in another interview done by the Tampa Bay Times, refuted the false news about the humanitarian Cuban medicine and expressed that although as an American he did not participate in the program of the medical missions, he does have friends who have.

“It’s a total lie”, stressed the 33-year-old, who in 2008 could not afford the high costs in his country’s universities, and found himself only with the option of studying in Cuba.

He explained to the Tampa Bay Times that after arriving in Cuba he spent two years receiving preparation classes at a Havana campus, and for the next four years he got hands-on experience working on a general medicine rotation at a Cuban hospital, alongside Cuban doctors.

“Those same doctors with whom I shared experiences with on the island are the ones who are signing up for the medical brigades abroad, the ones who are providing medical care to humanity. It is their commitment to international solidarity”, Sowa explained who is currently working as an internal medicine resident at Brandon Regional Hospital in Florida.

In the same sense, the ambassador of the European Union (EU) in Cuba, Alberto Navarro, recently stated that the Island is giving the world today an example of solidarity in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, by sending scores of medical missions to rich and poor countries.

Navarro commented that the EU is exploring, “the possibility of creating a school like the ELAM model for Africa, where there is also much need”, with using the Cuban holistic approach to medicine and health using European funds.

That’s how simple Cuban solidarity is with the people of the US; it is honest and comes with no strings or expectations of something in return. The training of US doctors continues tuition-free in Cuba despite the vicious and aggressive actions by the Trump Administration that seem to find a new punishment to inflict on the island for the crime of providing a humanitarian example towards a better world.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – Cuba, translation, North America bureau.