Human Resources for Health
Squires N, Colville SE, Chalkidou K, Ebrahim S.
Achieving improvements in Universal Health Coverage will require a re-orientation of medical education towards a stronger focus on primary health care. Innovative medical curricula have been implemented in some countries, but in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the emphasis remains focused on hospital and speciality services. Cuba has a long history of supporting LMICs and has made major contributions to African health care and medical training. A scheme for training South African students in Cuba was established 20 years ago and expanded more recently, with around 700 Cuban-trained graduates returning to South Africa each year from 2018 to 2022. The current strategy is to re-orientate and re-train these graduates in South African medical schools for up to 3 years as they are perceived to have inadequate skills. This negative narrative on Cuban-trained doctors in South Africa could be changed dramatically. They have highly appropriate skills in primary care and prevention and could provide much needed services to rural and urban under-served populations whilst gaining an orientation to the health problems of South Africa and strengthening their skills. Bilateral arrangements between South Africa and the United Kingdom are providing mechanisms to support such schemes. The Cuban approach to medical education may have lessons for many countries attempting to meet the challenges of Universal Health Coverage.
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