Cuba-trained US physicians fear prejudice back home
|Published on Wednesday, July 25, 2007||Email To Friend Print Version|
|HAVANA, Cuba (AFP): Eight Americans who graduated Tuesday from medical school in Cuba fear prejudice back home, but said their education, training and dedication should help them overcome any obstacle.
"It’s inevitable we’ll be facing and confronting prejudice when we get there due to the political situation between our two countries, but when we can show we’re well prepared technically, those prejudices will fall away," one of the doctors, Teresa Thomas, told a press conference.
She and seven other Americans are among 1,842 doctors from 30 countries to have graduated Tuesday from Havana’s Latin American School of Medicine, after six years of study under a full scholarship program granted by Cuba.
Applicants to the school are chosen from poor areas around the world by Pastors for Peace, a special ministry of the US-based Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization headed by Reverend Lucius Walker.
Walker told the press conference it was "a very special day" for his oranization, adding that 100 Americans were currently studying to be doctors at the Havana school and that 18 more would be arriving in late August.
When the graduates return to the United States, he said, they have to pass three equivalency exams to validate their medical degree, but that they were already "fully and well trained" to practice medicine in the United States.
Pastors for Peace official Ellen Bostein said the US graduates were very sought after in the United States "because they have received excellent training in primary health care, disease prevention and are all bilingual."
Toussaint Reynolds, who like Thomas is from New York City, said in Cuba he learned that "medicine is not a business but a social and human occupation."
"Everything is politics," the freshly-graduated doctor told reporters, "but if the United States would give young blacks from poor backgrounds the possibility to study in their own country, they wouldn’t have to come to Cuba."
The medical education those Americans get in Cuba, he said, would cost 200,000 dollars in the United States.
"That’s something their families cannot afford," Reynolds added.