O’Neill defends Cubans


Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says that the arrangement for Cuban doctors to work in district hospitals within the next three months is a short term measure while the Government plans to train more local doctors.
O’Neill, flanked by Health Minister Michael Malabag and Health Secretary Pascoe Kase, told the media in Port Moresby on Tuesday that the Government would fund the increase of medical student intakes next year.
“Part of these (funds) will come out from the funds that are parked in my department where I can be able to intervene in some of the shortfalls that are coming in to play in some of the important sectors like health and education,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill also said that the cost of the Cuban doctors would be funded through the government funding including the district and provincial services improvement programmes.
He said the Cuban doctors were not going to be paid more than the local doctors.
“What I have communicated to the health secretary, our doctors union and our officials is that we will now increase the number of doctor students who are going to attend the medical school which will now be a standalone school,” O’Neill said.
“It will be part of the University of Papua New Guinea but it will be funded separately.
“What it means is that we train the doctors, and one of the conditions is that the interns will go to the districts and work along side the Cuban doctors.
“When the Cuban doctors’ term ends then our doctors are able to carry on from there.”
O’Neill led a delegation on an official visit to Cuba at the invitation of Cuban President Raul Castro to engage with the health sector in Cuba.

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