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Solomons students penniless, hungry at school

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April, 3, 2011) - Four medical scholarships have been offered by the Cuban government to the Fijian Government for local students to study Bachelor of Surgery and Medicine (MBBS) in Cuba beginning in September this year.

Public Service Commission permanent secretary Parmesh Chand said the scholarship program covers six years of study and one year studies learning Spanish.

The scholarship covers tuition, lodging, meal, book, dental and monthly allowances. These costs are essentially met by the Cuban government as part of the scholarship.

The Fijian Government through the PSC will cover the return airfares in addition to supplementary allowance to help students settle in and effectively pursue their studies in Cuba.

[PIR editor’s note: A group of Solomon Islands students, attending the Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina under a similar arrangement, recently complained that their allowances are seven months late, that they are underfed, and struggling with hunger.]

Mr. Chand said Government continued to explore opportunities in increasing the number of doctors in the country given the shortage of doctors faced by the Ministry of Health.

He said the offer by the Cuban government was a huge boost to Fiji and the Health Ministry.

Last year, Fiji sent four medical students to study at the Latin American School of Medicine (Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina or ELAM).

Both countries established diplomatic relations in 2003 and medicine was identified as one area of co-operation that could be explored given the achievements in the provision of medicine training by the Cuban government.

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