Sir Henry defends policy towards Cuban-trained doctors

Barbadian doctors who receive their medical training in Cuba must be prepared to sit the Caribbean Association of Medical Councils (CAMC) examination to practise locally, Independent Senator Professor Sir Henry Fraser insisted today.

Amid public calls for clarity on the treatment of the Cuban-trained doctors, Sir Henry, a former Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of the West Indies, attempted to explain the issue during debate on the Caribbean Accreditation Authority Education in Medicine and Other Health Professions (Incorporation) Bill, 2016 in the Upper House.

Sir Henry said the challenges would be best resolved if Cuban authorities worked with the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP).

He noted that while Cuba has an outstanding record in public health care, some aspects of its medical training were found wanting.

“Cuba’s great reputation for medical training lies in its excellent public health programme and not in the clinical skills with which the students graduate. There are so many students being trained in Cuba and so many nurses, and the health system is so well provided for in so many areas that their students graduated apparently without the ability to set up an intravenous line or to take a blood sample or to do other clinical procedures our students are all taught to do during the medical course and which practising doctors in Barbados must be able to do,” he told fellow senators.

The retired doctor insisted that the medical faculty at the UWI had developed its training programme to the highest standards and “to be oriented towards the society of Barbados, towards the diseases that are particularly prevalent in Barbados and towards issues that are both medical, social and financial”.

Sir Henry said Cuban graduates who took the examinations in Jamaica had relatively low pass rates when compared to international students and the entry requirement for Cuban medical schools were below the standard requirement for students entering the UWI medical faculty.

“Some students went with CXC [Caribbean Examination Council] results, some students went with A Levels that were not scientific. So you could imagine the challenge these students had studying in Cuba without adequate preparation and background in science subjects.”

The Professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies also expressed concern that students who had to spend a year learning Spanish were sent to country hospitals in the eastern end of the island instead of the more established facilities in the capital, Havana.

“When we interviewed the students, Barbadians and Jamaicans who were studying in Cuba, they all said there was a big difference in the standard of teaching facilities and accommodation . . . that most of them were constantly applying for transfers in Havana,” he said.

He further argued it was “particularly disadvantaging to send Barbadians to Cuba for a programme that would take seven years” instead of the five years spent studying here.

“The simple fact is unless the medical universities in Cuba subject their performance to the CAAM-HP, graduates will continue to have to take the CAMC exams, “ Sir Henry said.

7 Responses to Sir Henry defends policy towards Cuban-trained doctors

  1. Loretta Griffith May 26, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Based on what Sir Henry said, I honestly feel we should not lower our standards just for short term gains.
    Let Cuba bring their training up to standard or let them do the required training for certification here.
    I feel they should be accommodated after certification.

    Reply
  2. Carson C Cadogan May 26, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    I dont believe a word that he said.

    Cuban Doctors are world renowned. Only Barbados is playing the fool with Medical Graduates from Cuba. Sabotaging young Cuban trained Bajan Doctors. Cuban Doctors have done more good throughout the World than Fraser would ever do in two lifetimes.

    It is all Bajan class-ism. Nothing more than that.

    Reply
  3. Dr. Ben Haynes PsyD May 26, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    The question should center on whether good medical care can be performed by these newly minted doctors. How to make sure of this must be left to our legislatures at every level. No doubt, the talk about how good the Cuban trained doctors are will always have a place in Cuban society but remember, when out of Cuba much is expected, and reality is the name of the game. Dr. Henry’s argument holds strong, and should be supported to save the citizens that are going to need medical care hence, the policy that makes this possible is the way to go.

    Reply
  4. Carson C Cadogan May 26, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    “….Cuban trained doctors are will always have a place in Cuban society but remember, when out of Cuba much is expected….”

    What foolishness is this?

    Cuban trained doctors operate in many regions of the World with distinction.

    Why is Barbados any different?

    Fraser’s opinion should not be supported.

    Reply
  5. Carson C Cadogan May 26, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    An except from Wikipedia:

    “Following the 2004 Asian tsunami, Cuba sent medical assistance to Banda Aceh and Sri Lanka.[5] In response to Hurricane Katrina, Cuba prepared to send 1500 doctors to the New Orleans; the offer was refused. Several months later the mission was dispatched to Pakistan following the 2005 Kashmir earthquake there. Ultimately Cuba sent “more than 2,500 disaster response experts, surgeons, family doctors, and other health personnel”, who stayed through the winter for more than 6 months.[5][12] Cuba is helping with the medical crisis in Haiti due to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[13] All 152 Cuban medical and educational personnel in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince at the time of the earthquake were reported to be safe, with two suffering minor injuries.[14] In 2014, Cuba sent 103 nurses and 62 doctors to help fight the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, the biggest contribution of health care staff by any single country”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_medical_internationalism

    Reply
  6. Loretta Griffith May 28, 2016 at 12:36 am

    The Cuban doctors should be thoroughly trained according to our standards. There should be no short cuts. I am all for inclusion, but it should be merited.
    We are dealing with life and death situations.
    If they can’t take a proper blood sample, that is serious. After proper training I would welcome the Cuban doctors especially for their experience. Apart from the language barrier, I think we should try to integrate some of the senior doctors Cuban doctors into our medical field.

    Reply
  7. Loretta Griffith May 28, 2016 at 12:38 am

    The Cuban doctors should be thoroughly trained according to our standards. There should be no short cuts. I am all for inclusion, but it should be merited.
    We are dealing with life and death situations.
    If they can’t take a proper blood sample, that is serious. After proper training I would welcome the Cuban doctors especially for their experience. Apart from the language barrier, I think we should try to integrate some of the senior Cuban doctors into our medical field.

    Reply

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