The number of Gauteng students studying medicine in Cuba has declined from 264 in 2019 to 25 last year, but the Gauteng Health Department insists that more students will be recruited for the programme despite paying R316 000 annually for each student.
This information is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mokgethi, there were 264 students in Cuba in 2019, 114 in 2020, 25 in 2021 and 25 this year.
But Mokgethi says that “the implementation of the SA Cuba Binational Agreement is continuing, and more students are being recruited.”
It is disappointing that the department wishes to continue with a programme that is more than double the cost of local medical training. It also takes two years longer as there is an extra year to learn Spanish and they spend another year finalising their training at a South African medical school.
Furthermore, the provincial treasury is currently doing a forensic audit on suspected corruption in this programme which had a budget of R313 million last year.
Gauteng should follow the Western Cape Health Department which refuses to participate in this expensive programme.
Money is better spent to expand training at the three medical schools in Gauteng rather than paying an exorbitant amount for overseas training that still requires an extra year of local training.