This is an edited version of a presentation made by Cuba’s Ambassador to Jamaica Inés Fors Fernández, at the ceremony for the official presentation of medical scholarships to seven successful candidates in Kingston on May 31, 2018.
BY INES FORS FERNANDEZ, Sunday, June 17, 2018 – Jamaica Observer
Being a doctor is like opening a door to a long road leading to the noblest action that a human being can do for others.
I’d like to welcome you all to this ceremony for the official presentation of scholarships to seven Jamaicans students and doctors who have been awarded with the opportunity to study medicine and specialties related to Medical Sciences in Cuba.
These scholarships were offered under the Cuba-Jamaica Scholarships Programme for the academic year 2018-2019.
We would like to congratulate the awardees and, specially, their families for helping raise these fine youngsters who will surely succeed in this new stage of their lives.
For those who travel for the first time to Cuba, I would say: You will have the opportunity to study at the first class Latin American School of Medical Sciences — a school that was conceived and created in 1999 by the Leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, and that has graduated more than 28,500 medical doctors from 103 nations.
You will have the opportunity to share the values of Cuba’s health system, including solidarity, equity, non-discriminatory access of individuals and their families to adequate, timely, and specific comprehensive services at the national level, as well as quality, effective, and affordable medicines.
You will be trained not only as good professionals, but as professionals with a humane and social sense of medicine, with a greater commitment to your surroundings.
You will be trained in a health model that also promotes patient empowerment. You will learn to be doctors who bring social change to your patients and communities.
You will receive quality scientific and technical training combined with a humanistic approach — preparing you to work for health for all.
You will travel to Cuba, a country that has a health care system closely linked to research and development, a country which has made health an essential pillar of development.
You will know why Cuba, a developing nation, ranks higher than many developed nations in life expectancy at birth and mortality before age 5; why Cuba was the first country to officially eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV; and why Cuba has one of the highest density of physicians in the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, friends, brothers and sisters, health is a human right that everyone should benefit from. Even so, more than half of the world’s population lacks medical services. Millions of human beings are forced to live in poverty, due to the costs demanded for their care.
To Cuba, international cooperation is an essential component of the foreign policy of the revolution, and is based on the values of solidarity and humanism that our society defends. Cuban actions in the field of international cooperation are based on the principle of sharing with other peoples what we have and not what we have left, despite the harsh economic consequences the United States blockade has on every aspect of our lives.
On May 23, Cuba commemorated the 55th anniversary of the launch of its international humanitarian missions, with over 400,000 health professionals serving in 164 nations worldwide.
Cuba is also prepared to respond to emergencies and epidemic outbreaks with the presence of 50,000 of its health personnel in 64 nations, the training of human resources in different medical specialties, nursing and health technology, and the graduation on the island of more than 28,500 young people from some 100 countries in these professions.
In the case of Jamaica, over 300 Cubans are presently offering their services in several bilateral cooperation programmes.
Just last December, 2017, Cuba and Jamaica celebrated the 20th anniversary of the cooperation in the field of Education. During these years, 300 Cuban teachers have worked in all regions of Jamaica.
In the field of health, 231 Cuban health professionals presently work in Jamaica under the Agreement for Technical Cooperation and Operation Miracle. As well as Cuban teachers, they permanently feel the sentiments of sincere gratitude from the Jamaican people and this constitutes their main engine to continue contributing to Government efforts to improve health care services in Jamaica.
Under the Scholarships Programme of the Government of the Republic of Cuba, 118 Jamaican students have graduated from Medical Sciences specialties, mostly as Doctors in Medicine.
Overall, and up to 2017, 640 Jamaicans have graduated in Cuba in different areas.
Dear awardees: Cuba is well known for its Revolution. It is a Revolution of Health and Education, a Revolution of Science, a Revolution of Philosophy, a Revolution of Poetry and Song.
I wish you all the best in Cuba, a vibrant country full of music, poetry and dance.
I am sure you will love the Cuban people, a people characterised for their fighting spirit, strength in adversity, nobility, wisdom, humanism, sensitivity, joy, spirit of resistance and love for freedom.
Dear awardees: Martin Luther King Jr had a dream. We know the familiar refrain from his speech delivered almost 55 years ago in Washington, D C.
You also have the dream of becoming doctors.
Here’s your chance to make your dream come true!
Go to Cuba and come back to the land we love.
Your beautiful country will be waiting for you