(Telesur) – Cuba has trained more than 80,000 doctors from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the United States, Pakistan and China in the last 50 years for free, according to a consultant of the Latin American School of Medicine, ELAM, in Havana.
Luis Estruch, a consultant and professor at ELAM, emphasized how impressive it was that a small Caribbean nation with few economic resources has been able to transform its limited potential into enormous human capital.“That is the fundamental contribution of Cuba, forming youth through the idea of the community doctor, with their eyes toward the poor, toward preventive medicine,” said Estruch.
“For that reason we have to feel proud of everything that the Bolivarian Revolution and the Cuban Medical Mission does,” he added.
Cuba began awarding free scholarships to students from across the Global South in the 1960s, many of whom had been affected by conflict and war. Following the 1959 revolution, around 20,000 were granted free education in the country, many of them in the field of healthcare.
The Latin American School of Medicine, or ELAM, was created by leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro in 1999. When ELAM was officially inaugurated in November of that year, 1,527 students from 18 different countries were enrolled for free, according to Estruch.
Today, close to 10,000 students from 122 countries are currently enrolled in the school, all of them studying under free scholarships.
According to Estruch, Cuba has trained around 21,000 Venezuelan doctors alone while Cuban medical practitioners and professors currently teach and even run many prominent medical facilities throughout the world.
In a similar fashion, according to figures from 2014, since 1969 a total of 325,710 health workers from Cuba had participated in missions in 158 countries. In Africa alone, 76,744 had offered their services in 39 countries.
Among the most important tasks taken up by these doctors was the humanitarian help given to Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak. Thousands of Cuban and island-trained doctors also helped out in Haiti in October after Hurricane Matthew devastated the nation, even though parts of Cuba were heavily affected as well.