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Cuban doctors for PNG

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CUBA is expected to provide Papua New Guineas with doctors, medicine and medical training following talks in Havana last week between Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and President Raul Castro.
O’Neill, who returned last Friday, said Cuba had implemented “a range of social development policies to improve the quality of life of its citizens through effective health programmes and systems”.
“The result of these policies over many years has seen an improvement in quality of life, a reduction in infant mortality and an increased life expectancy,” he said.
“PNG is in a position to learn from this experience and expertise, and to apply this to our core national policies of healthcare and education.”
He and Castro discussed the opportunity to bring Cuban doctors to PNG to serve in remote areas.
“Castro is supportive of the proposal and it is now up to our officials to finalise details,” he said.
“Right now, in some of our rural areas, people are not receiving adequate healthcare for the simple fact that we cannot get enough Papua New Guinean doctors to move to these locations. Many doctors would prefer to be based in urban areas.
“So with the support of several of our senior doctors, we are working with Cuba to fill the gaps in rural areas. As an island nation in a tropical environment, Cuba faces many similar medical challenges to PNG.
“So I expect these doctors will be very effective in delivering healthcare to our people.”
O’Neill also talked to Cuban pharmaceutical companies producing medication “highly suited to the conditions and illnesses” in PNG.
He was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato, Government officials, including Health Secretary Pascoe Kase, and a team of senior PNG doctors.
O’Neill said their meetings with the Cuban Government had revealed a number of common approaches to social development between the two countries.
“Cuba is willing to extend co-operation including medical professors to come to PNG and for our students to travel to Cuba for training,” he said.
“Our national medical training must be intensified, and more doctors and healthcare workers must be available.”
He said a memorandum of understanding would be signed with the Cuban Government to facilitate the recruitment and training priorities.

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