Community Doctors: A look inside Cuba's medical scholarship program
July 19, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Community Doctors official website -- Although it is a resource-poor country Cuba has developed a highly effective medical system. Their health outcomes are on par with those of the United States. Cuba has provided thousands of doctors to work in medically underserved areas in countries around the world to restore those communities from the impact of natural disasters, epidemics and the widespread lack of medical care.
In 1999 Cuba opened the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) to give medical scholarships to the brightest from poor areas around the world so that they may become doctors that will eventually return and serve the communities from which they came.
Due to decades of political animosity between the United States and Cuba, of which have only recently began to normalize, information about Cuba has been relatively scant. Despite the impasse in diplomatic relations, Cuba provided the offer of free medical scholarships for students in the United States.
The film tells the story of the medical scholarship program and the young Americans, many from poor and underserved communities in the United States, who were awarded full scholarships to study medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, Cuba. The program is a 6-7 year, fully Spanish, hands-on experience that prepares students to become doctors that are skilled at preventing diseases and treating patients in low-resource conditions with an interwoven focus on community building. At a time when Cuba itself remained off-limits to most Americans, the students and graduates of ELAM share their experiences, challenges, lessons and hopes as they are fully immersed in a new culture while learning a unique and radically different approach to medicine and healthcare.