I wish to congratulate our twenty or so newly graduated medical officers from Cuba (SST.5640) for having gone through the challenge of studying for six years or so in a far away country with a totally different language and communist environment. You have persevered those long years and have now returned to the country.
I commend you young women and men for your choice to serve your people in the field of medicine. Your country and people indeed need you.
Admittedly, perhaps not what you might have expected, you have to undergo another three years of induction, nurturing, tutoring and practical teaching to attain the standard your country needs you to be.
I share any disappointment anyone of you may feel but I encourage you all to do your best to fulfil the country as the country needs you.
You have indeed done your part well so far, well done! However my comment at the end of this private view is for political and bureaucratic leaders too to also consciously do their parts well.
I commend the Medical & Dental Board (MDB) and the Medical Superintendent Dr. Rooney Jagilly, senior doctors and the Committee at National Referral Hospital for having decided to implement the historic induction training program for our young doctors to achieve the standard required of them fully provide quality medical services in our country.
I applaud that the decision to set up this induction is made after a careful thorough assessment of the new graduates. To some three years is a long time, but I confirm that in medicine inevitably issues must be dealt with carefully, professionally and efficiently and this takes time and the pertinent decision; induction for three weeks, bridging program for six months and internship for twenty four months, has been taken diligently by our local specialists to upgrade our new graduates to standard required.
Well done colleagues, nurture our young professionals well as they are our future medical human assets. The day will come when these young graduates fully register and serve the country like any medical officers.
The experiences gained in this induction will also benefit future graduates as I understand some of our students are still in Cuba.
Whilst I congratulate the new graduates and commend the local specialists and board I urge the political leaders and bureaucrats not to make important technical decisions hasty without technical advice of local specialists and local legal professional bodies, in this case the MDB.
About 8 years ago Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hon. William Haomae, caught up with his Cuban counterpart in New York at UN Assembly and the latter committed Cuba to freely train doctors for Solomon Islands.
There was excitement, like beggars do when offered free goods, and the collaboration between political and bureaucratic leaders in MFAT, MEHRD and MHMS several students interested in medicine were sent to Cuba.
At no time technical and professional advice were sought nor review of the offered training program for its suitability to the needs of Solomon Islands. Instead endless rhetoric by health and other officials excited after visits to Cuba claimed the highest quality of medical training and medical services in Cuba culminating into opening the Solomon Islands Embassy in Havana, our first in a Communist country. Now we know those rhetoric might be true for Cuba medical system but not for Solomon Islands medical services.
I do not know exactly the medical training and medical services in Cuba except that it is a Communist country with a different system according to some information by contact I received from one of our local specialist currently at NRH during his visit to Cuba some years ago when he was in Melbourne training in paediatric surgery.
He went to Cuba with a visiting Paediatric Surgeon specialist. In the late seventies I studied the ‘Barefoot Doctors’ system in Communist China as our then political and bureaucratic leaders believed that might be the system that would be best for Solomon Islands to achieve ‘Health for All by Year 2000’.
I came back reporting it was not suitable and we developed the National Health Referral system ourselves. Barefoot doctors are long gone in China where they now have some of world medical specialists.
My plea to political leaders (those who come after next election) and bureaucratic leaders is when you are excited with offers of free professional trainings especially in a new venue and program always ask the local professional leaders and professional board for professional and technical advices and if necessary review of the training program.
This should have been done prior to sending our keen innocent students to Cuba and in this case the MDB. When I say local professionals I mean those in the hospital and not those, like any bureaucratic, who are sitting in the offices at the headquarter.
Though Cuba might offer free medical training but this involves investing the several years of peak academic life of our young citizens for decisions to be taken precariously. Unfortunately this is not the first for this to be so with MHMS and an example is the location and construction of the current NRH that took 25 years and is now few meters from the shorelines and will partly disappear in the next decade as all decisions were done politically and diplomatically, bypassing local technical and professional advice.
In the Cuba case it is a sad consequence of the arrogance and negligence of those excited political and bureaucratic decisions years ago that our young citizens innocent as they all are and keen to serve in medical field undertook a six years medical program that does not result in quality graduate the country requires. Thus the new graduates inevitably have to face another three years of practical training to meet the required standard.
I ask these Ministries, especially MEHRD and MHMS to support these graduates with funding to undertake the practical training designed if this has not been decided upon.
Or sadly to me as Dr Rooney Jagilly, Medical Superintendent stated, I quote, ‘If newly graduate doctors can’t meet the standards during their bridging and internship period, then they will have to find another job.’ end quote. I hope indeed none will end up so.
Senior professional colleagues you have my congratulation in setting up the bridging and upgrading of our new graduates from Cuba to attain the standard required, in addition to your already demanding professional jobs. You have my admiration and offer of support. To the new graduates continue to persevere and undertake the program set for you and soon you will perform to the medical standard like graduates from any recognised medical schools. My best wishes to you all.
By N Kere