Certification conundrum: Cuban-trained doctors demand exemption from NEB test

Cuban Ambassador felicitated the fresh graduates while hoping that they would alleviate health sector of Pakistan.

News Desk May 05, 2014
The Cuban government had offered scholarships to Pakistani students after the 2005 earthquake hit the country. PHOTO: FILE

Cuban-trained Pakistani doctors have complained that they are unable to work here despite having completing one-year house jobs in Cuba.

They expressed their concerns at a reception hosted by Senate Deputy Chairman Sabir Ali Baloch in honour of the first batch of 300 doctors who had earlier arrived here from Cuba after completing their medical education.

The medical professionals also demanded to be exempted from the National Examination Board test conducted by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).

The Cuban government had offered scholarships to Pakistani students after the 2005 earthquake hit the country.

Senator Kulsoom Parveen offered full support to the students to resolve their problems and announced she would hold a meeting with PMDC officials on May 14.

HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmad also assured the students that the issue would be taken up with the PMDC officials at a meeting scheduled on May 12.

the Senate Defence Committee Chairman Mushahid Hussain said Cuba has one of the best medical systems in the world and it was a matter of pride that the first batch has returned.

He said 145 students out of 300 bagged gold medals by getting 99.2 per cent marks in their exams.

Hussain also thanked the Cuban government for sending medical relief teams to help the earthquake victims in 2005.

He said that Cuba has inspired the third world with leadership that showed courage in preserving independence, despite foreign interventions.

Cuban Ambassador Jesus Zenen Concepcion was also present and felicitated the fresh graduates while expressing hope that they would invest their energies in improving the health sector of Pakistan.

Baloch hoped that they would not hesitate to go to far-flung areas of Balochistan to serve the people.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2014.


Dr. M. Sher Khoh Qaistani | 7 years ago | Reply

Cuba has an extensive public healthcare system which underwent several reforms and redevelopment in 1980s. All citizens enjoy equal access and in every community from urban to rural areas. This is why Cubans have one of the highest life expectancies and low mortality rates in the geographical region. Private practices by doctors and hospitals do not exist. All the health facilities are run by the government. Universal vaccination, universal programs and extensive primary healthcare system have eradicated many diseases like polio, rubella, malaria and chicken pox. Cuba exports health by sending medical personals to other countries (more than 30,000 in 68 countries) and by providing scholarships to many students from all over the world. According to the World Health Organization, Cuba provides a doctor for every 170 residents (Pakistan for 1400 residents), and has the second highest doctor-to-patient ratio in the world after Italy. Thousands of people travel to Cuba to receive effective treatment. Most medical tourists are from Canada, Latin America and European countries. Cuba has a number of well-trained specialists at hand. The research sector is in the field of biotechnology or epidemiological studies on chronic diseases. Cuban scientists have developed a vaccine against a strain of bacterial meningitis B, which eliminated what had been a serious disease on the island. The Cuban vaccine is used throughout Latin America and many other European countries. Despite all the political strains, health of Cuba’s population remained stable and a high priority for the government. Cuba is far ahead of Pakistan in medical education and health delivery system. The achievements of Cubans in health indicators are a role model for other nations of the world. At present, Pakistan has one of the lowest health indicators in areas such as infant mortality, vaccination and maternal health. Pakistani medical students in Cuba have shown remarkable performance among students from over 120 different countries. The results in the academic year 2010-11 show that the cumulative result of Pakistani students was 99.67 per cent (breaking all the previous records in the history of Cuba) followed by Ecuador 98.28 per cent, Bolivia 97.69 per cent, China 97.28 per cent and Nicaragua 96.77 per cent. Pakistani medical students who have completed their 7 years study program in Cuba were selected on merit throughout Pakistan by Higher Education Commission (HEC) and have become well trained in providing the Primary Health Care to the humanity. So, these students can make a substantial contribution to improve the health sector of Pakistan and would also further strengthen the bilateral friendly relations between both the countries.

A Pakistani Cuban Doctor | 7 years ago | Reply

@ Reco: I don't know if you have any kind of personal grudge with Cuba, because all what you said is about Cuba and it's system, nothing related to the issue mentioned in the article above. First of all, Costa Rica is not a sole authority on Doctors in the world, every country has its own rules and regulations, if the Costa Rican government didn't find the formation of doctors in Cuba apt enough, then it's not that Cuban degree/study/formation is not up to the mark of standardised medical education. Perhaps you are not familiar with the terms of USMLE and PLAB to mention least, because then according to your point of view USA and UK don't consider the degree of any other country valid and that's why its obligatory to take these exams to work/study in these countries. Hope you get my point. Secondly, all the graduates from Cuba, including the gold medallists are not fearing the NEB test, it's only the wastage of time they all are preoccupied for, because completing the whole process of degree recognition through the series of NEB tests, will take 2 years. While they have already spent 7 years in medical study which consisted of 1 year Spanish Language course, 5 years medical study and 1 year of house job. Furthermore just for your kind information, your source of information about health system is very poor, or misleading as nothing such happened as you said about Cuban doctors working in Brazil, in fact right now about 4000 Cuban doctors are serving in Brazil under the health program of country. And the Cuban Health system, perhaps you don't know is comparable to that of any developed country in spite of being a country under heavy sanctions imposed now for more than 40 years. You can find all the statistics of cuban health system on WHO's website and compare those to with the health statistics of any country you want, thus you may consider the possibility to redeem your views about Cuba, its health system and other policies.

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