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22.02.2008 Health

Cuba grants scholarship to 20 Ghanaian medical students

By GNA
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Gripped by the spirit of South-South cooperation, the Communist authorities in Cuba on Wednesday offered 20 scholarship slots to Ghanaian medical students who want to study in medical schools in the coastal country.

The offer was the by-product of two separate meetings Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama had with his counterpart, Mr. Esteban Lazo Hernandez and Mr. Jose Ramon, Minister of Public Health in Havana, to where the Vice President is on a seven-day official visit.

Mr Hernandez had earlier pledged 10 slots during a closed-door meeting with the Vice President but after intense lobbying at the Health Ministry by Alhaji Mahama, the number was increased to 20.

Justifying the gesture, Mr Hernandez said Cuba had always stood by the side of fellow developing countries.

He explained that his country had a heavy presence in Africa decades ago, not to grab human and mineral resources but to help in the resistance against colonialism.

“We counted the cost in the number of soldiers who returned home dead and not the number of mineral resources we looted."

Mr Henandez lauded Ghana for being the first country in Africa to establish diplomatic relations with his country and called for a more spirited link.

The Public Health Affairs Minister depicted the medical strength of Cuba, which, he said, was achieved through practical and innovative ways of training medical students.

This, Mr Ramon said had led to the churning out of 70,000 doctors for a population of 11.2 million people.

Vice President Mahama called for increased trade and investments between the two countries to facilitate the deepening of bilateral relations.

At a visit to the Ministry of Education, he commended Cuba for assisting Ghana to train medical doctors and posting a number of medical personnel to the country, especially in the rural areas.

The Minister, Mr Luis Gomez, noted that Cuba had achieved the highest literacy rate in the world through a National Campaign for Literacy started in 1961.

He said the country had attained 100 per cent enrolment level for basic school pupils in a learning atmosphere where 20 pupils are enrolled in a class to give room for effective teaching and learning.

Mr Gomez said university education was universal for all Cubans in every part of the country, whilst Information, Communication and Technology was accessible to every student.

Vice President Alhaji Mahama later visited Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine, where the Head, Professor Gustavo Kouri described the high index of mortality in Africa as horrible.

He elaborated the medical feat his country had achieved through the establishment of the Cuban National Health System in 1959, which had pushed the country's life expectancy rate to 77.

The system had made Cuba the first country to eradicate poliomyelitis in 1962.

Prof. Kouri said his country was able to eradicate yellow fever in 1902, malaria; 1967, Diphtheria; 1979 and measles 1993.

He said the Institute had been listed to participate in the treatment of people suffering from Neglected Tropical Diseases such as river blindness and sleeping sickness.

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