Issue #1523 19 October 2011
Cuba’s gift to our region
Medical collaboration in East Timor and the Pacific
Two East Timorese doctors tell the untold story
Dr Merita Antónia Armindo Monteiro / Dr Colombianus da Costa
Australian tour October 18–28
Cuban doctors and their large-scale medical training program came to East Timor in 2004, followed by Kiribati, Nauru, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands over 2006-2008. By late 2009, more than a thousand young students from East Timor and Pacific island nations were studying medicine with Cuban professionals, most of them in Cuba. This “South-South” collaboration is transforming the health systems of these developing countries. This week Papua New Guinea sent government officials to Cuba to sign a medical collaboration accord.
Cuba’s “solidarity aid” in health care and education in Africa and Latin America is widely recognised, yet the efforts of this small socialist developing country – subject to US trade sanctions and with a per capita GDP around one eighth that of Australia – to improve the lives of the poor in our region has gone almost unnoticed outside of the recipient countries. This good news story has important lessons for how poor countries in our region can be assisted to develop effective public health care systems based on the Cuban experience.
Dr Colombianus da Costa and Dr Merita Antónia Armindo Monteiro, both from East Timor, participated in Cuba’s medical training program and are also members of the Timor Leste-Cuba Friendship Society. Their tour is timely: the Australian government says it wants to work with Cuba in the region.
Monday October 24,
6.30 – 8.30pm
Tom Mann Theatre, 136 Chalmers St, Surry Hills
Tour organised by the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society (Sydney)
Tim Anderson 0418 604 488,
Chela Weitzel 0422 665 099,
Marce Cameron 0413 158 480
Next article – Wrecking Qantas to “save” it
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