HAVANA._ The training of human resources is presently a priority in order to meet the demands of both the system’s domestic universal coverage and Cuba’s international medical collaboration.

Jorge González, rector of the University of Medical Sciences of Havana (UMSH), said that this institution is dedicated to the education and training of Cuban and foreign students in a range of health specialties.

Dr. González commented during a meeting with the press that the UMSH substantially increased enrolment: we are among the universities that offer most career opportunities to pre-university level graduates.

The training of human resources is presently a priority in order to meet the demands of both the system’s domestic universal coverage and Cuba’s international medical collaboration.He said that for the forthcoming 2015- 2016 course, starting next September, the institution offers 700 medicine, 200 dentistry, 147 nursing license and 495 health technology places.

González highlighted that at present the university has hit a record number of almost 5,000 residents studying diverse specialties; it has been many years since the last time the university has hosted so many students.

This, he stressed, is an important response regarding specialists. This is a much needed response to the necessities of the system set not only by the requirements of the country, but also by the international demand, in order to satisfy the needs of contracts abroad and Cuba’s solidarity missions of free medical treatments in other countries.

He said that this is a growing, selfsufficient activity with almost 3,000 students presently paying for their medical training in Cuba. The island has become an important educational center.

Over 700 students, mainly from Mexico and Colombia, have chosen to do their specialities here.

He recalled that Cuba already has a prestigious Medicine School with a vast variety of books, the needed facilities, methodologies, guides, and a long tradition of teaching ever since Nursing and Dentistry were introduced as a discipline in 1728.

Dr. González also spoke about the recent creation of a preparatory faculty to teach Spanish and basic subjects to non-Spanish speaking foreign students who intend to start their university courses next September.

More than 2,000 -- mostly African – young people from 11 countries are studying the language and basic sciences prior to the start of the school term, he said.

He stressed that rigorous international sanitary control standards are applied to every student arriving from whatever part of the world.

González added that this implied an obligatory period of quarantine to avoid the arrival of a person with an illness that might pose a health related risk to national security.

INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL COLLABORATION

Deputy Minister of Public Health Marcia Cobas said that there were 50,663 Cubans working in 67 different countries engaged in a range of mostly solidarity based collaboration modalities.

“We are working in 32 countries under the integral health program, in 14 countries with “Operación Milagro” (ophthalmology program) in 3 African nations with the Henry Reeve Brigade,(emergencies) in 17 countries on remunerated technical service contracts, and in 16 with Cuban medical services,” Cobas outlined.

“Solidarity remains predominant over contract-work. We export services, not doctors, because our doctors have, in addition to their salaries and their social security, guaranteed work placements in Cuba.”

She said that it is still possible to amplify existing contracts despite the language and human resource limitations.

Cobas explained that, in this regard, certain actions were being undertaken, such as the strengthening of undergraduate foreign language courses (English, French, and Portuguese.)

Proficiency in these languages is also encouraged due to an anticipated growth in the sSo-called Cuban Health-Tourism sector. The plan is to boost this line of business over the coming three years which would allow Cuba to enter the competitive international market for these kinds of health services, she said.

The deputy minister added that the number of foreign students applying to study medicine and other specialities in this discipline as well as for short and summer courses is increasing every year.

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