Cuba's Latin American School
of Medical Sciences
Reaching Out To Us Even When No One Here At Home Will
by Zekita Tucker
St. Louis, Missouri
In the midst of all the US-Cuban relations stories, primarily, the focus is on the imposed economic sanctions against Castros Cuba. But, there is a story of unity, progression, and humanitarian efforts lying within those pages written about Cuba. It is one that is hardly, if ever, told; a story that calls attention to the concern for human life above economic strife.
Since 2001, the Latin American School of Medical Sciences (LASMS) in Havana, Cuba has been admitting students from various countries in Latin America and Africa, as well as low income minority students from the U.S. into its six year medical program (particularly African Americans and some Hispanics). Since the program began in 2001, it has maintained that all of tuition, housing, and meals are free. In some cases the only necessary financing by students is for the trips to Cuba for school and back home again.
Each year there are an estimated 500 slots open to prospects from poor African American communities in the U.S. and from many other third world countries. These prospective students are all required to be from poor communities and the only graduation requirement is that they return to poor and/or destitute environments to provide proper healthcare for the people who need it most.
Many African Americans who have an interest in Medicine or Healthcare and have been fortunate enough to learn about this program have taken advantage of it without hesitation. According to an article found at redandgreen.org, since the first year of the program Cuba has been willing to accept up to 250 African American students out of the 500 total open slots for low income Americans. While participating in this program and taking full advantage of the opportunity to get a free education in a particular discipline of the Medical Sciences, the African American population can embrace the chance to make a tremendous impact on its own communities without the dependence on the long and tedious process of seeking financing for higher education and perhaps the rejection of sorts.
There are two installments within our society that are conducive on both the community and the national level. 1) The African American population receives an increase in qualified medical professionals who are trained to take care of those in need or in extreme poverty. 2) The students who attend become bilingual, speaking Spanish fluently. This is a major plus because not only will these extraordinary women and men become an essential element in the healthcare of the impoverished African American communities, but they can also practice in poor Hispanic communities while having clear and open communication with Americas growing Hispanic population. The information for applying and detailed programs can be found at Afrocubaweb.com.
The only requirements for American applicants (listed by Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization -- IFCO) are:
Black communities suffer greatly in the aspects of proper health care coverage as well as caring and quality health care providers. Potentially, there are many great black doctors and other medical professionals untrained and waiting in the trenches due to lack of the economic resources necessary to penetrate the sturdily built walls of being enrolled in many U.S. medical schools. The African American collective is saturated with persons of exceptional intellectual capabilities, phenomenal talents, and compassion that is undermined by the conditions in which many of us are forced to live (circumstantially).
About the author: Zekita Tucker is a freelance writer and author of Dont Call Me Nigga (for ages 6 years and older), Zeniam Publications.
Published in In Motion Magazine October 1, 2006
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