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Jul 9, 2018

11 Belizeans to Study Medicine in Cuba

The Cuban Embassy hosted a farewell event for students who are leaving Belize to study medicine in Cuba. The scholarship programme started some twenty years ago, under the leadership of late Cuba President Fidel Castro, to build capacity within CARICOM member states. And so far about two hundred students have graduated and almost a hundred more are currently pursuing degrees. The eleven recipients will study for several years in Cuba and upon receipt of their medical degree, they will return to offer service in Belize.  Andrea Polanco tells us more.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Eleven Belizean will be pursuing studies in Medicine and Health Technologies in Cuba through the Cuba-CARICOM scholarship programme. Nine of the students are first time medicine students, while two are doctors who are going back to specialize.  The students will be studying at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM).


Lissette Perez

Lissette Perez, Ambassador of Cuba to Belize 


“This is very crucial for the region because the intention is to build human resources for health, in the area of health systems, in this case, Belize. It means that hundreds of young Belizeans have been graduating in Medicine to provide the health system with these kinds of professional; but not only graduates in general medicine, but also in specialties. Today we do the farewell for eleven students and in this case this year we are providing eleven scholarships in medicine and health technologies and two for specialties. It means that it will keep improving the level of the graduates in area of specialties because the system needs more general surgeons, more gynecologists and these kinds of specialties. And this is what this program is doing.”


Twenty-one-year-old Dangriga resident Joshua Balogun is one of recipients of the scholarship. He hopes to one day become a cardiologist and offer his services in southern Belize. But for now, says that he’s ready to take on six years of studies in Cuba for personal and professional development.


Joshua Balogun

Joshua Balogun, Scholarship Recipient

“I like to help people and saw the opportunity to go and get educated to help people. The reason why I chose Cuba is because Cuba is focused more on the focus of the humanitarian aspect of it – so I decided to go to a police that focused on humans instead of looking at them as just profit. So, that is why I decided to go to Cuba to pursue medicine.”


Andrea Polanco

“Is there a particular area within medicine that you’d like to specialize in?”


Joshua Balogun

“Yes. I would like to specialize in Cardiology because I think that is a rare specialty in Belize and I think that coming back with that knowledge I can impact my community in a positive way and Belizeans will no longer have to pay so much money just to go abroad to get minor heart conditions fixed when they can get that in their home country. So, that is one of the reasons why I chose that specialty as well.”


Andrea Polanco

“Has medicine always been an area of interest for you?”


Joshua Balogun

“Yes. It has been medicine since I was young, from primary school I always wanted to do medicine. I think it came about from a positive experience I had with my physician when I was little. And so I was like, yes, I want to do that and help people like that and bring comfort and joy to families that are in need and ailing. You know some may come from low income families and they can’t afford healthcare, so it is good to come back and impact in their lives positively as well. It is a wonderful opportunity because medical school is expensive and for Cuba to do us such a great favour by giving us this free of charge, the only ask is that you come back and serve in your community. So, it is really mind boggling and amazing and I just want to thank the Cuban Government for this opportunity to just do this and achieve your goal,  achieve your dream.”


The scholarship programme started some twenty years ago, under the leadership of late Cuba President Fidel Castro. Upon the completion of their studies, the scholars are expected to return home to work in the medical field.


Lissette Perez

“The intention of the school is to prepare human resources to go back to their communities, to go back to practice a new kind of medicine from a humanitarian perspective that can share values with the person, to help the poor and the ones in the community who don’t have access to good treatment abroad. That is what is so important – the building of this capacity, not only the building of professional capacity but the value of human capacity that these students can improve the values and feeling for others.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


Eight of the students pursuing medicine are Luvia Castillo, Shemika Sanken, Gabriela Sima, Azzizi Hoy, Sean Escobar, Kevin Garcia, Joshua Balogun and Christian Ardon. Shane Guzman will be doing a degree in Health Technology.  The last two recipients are two doctors who studied in Cuba previously but are now going back to specialize; Doctor Andre Alexander Correa will be specializing in Gynecology and Obstetrics, while Doctor Roni Tzul will be doing studies in general surgery.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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