Monday, February 05, 2007

Marvin, ELAM, and Cuban Doctors

Marvin (pic at left) is the new doctor I am working with at the Hospital Nacional Puerto Barrios. He will take over as the Infectious Disease clinic doctor when MSF leaves Puerto Barrios. Over the next couple of months we will see patients together. I am teaching him everything I know about HIV.

Marvin was born in Coban Guatemala. He went to medical school in Cuba. He was in the first graduating class at the Latin America School of Medicine in Havana Cuba (also known as ELAM). After he graduated in 2005, he returned to Guatemala to work.

ELAM is a fascinating place. It is one of the largest medical schools in the world, and certainly the most diverse. There are currently about 10,000 matriculating medical students from more than 25 different countries (the majority are from Latin America). The school trains students from poor countries who do not have access to medical education. All students are given free tuition, room, and board for six years while they study medicine in Havana. They are encouraged to return to their home countries to practice medicine after they graduate.
There are currently about 100 ELAM students from the United States. The students are recruited and screened by the Interreligous Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO). Most of the North Americans at ELAM are from underrepresented minorities in US medicine.

There happens to be an article just this week in Slate about ELAM and Cuba´s system of medical education. It reports that Cuba has more doctors per capita than any other country in the world. Another recent article in the Economist discusses Cuba´s tradition of exporting doctors to sites that need medical help after natural disasters and emergencies. The article says that about 1 out of every 3 Cuban doctors practices outside the country at any one time.
How is it that Cuba can afford to train poor American minority students while the US can't manage to do so? How can Cuba manage to send thousands of doctors abroad to take care of the poor after International Emergencies and Humanitarian crisis, while almost all of the doctors in the US are too busy trying to pay off their medical school debt (average debt of graduating medical students in the US is currently somewhere around $100,000)?


Anonymous said...

muy interesante! gracias para contarme.

disfruta la vida, markus!

soledad said...

hola nell guapa...
pues si que se esta poniendo interesante tu blog,jejejeje
i miss you all

Anonymous said...

Is student o doctor?
Is not too younger for you?

dysphoric said...

He´s a doctor. Too young for me, as well as other inconpatabilities. Thanks for thinking of me though!

Reshma said...

To respected comrades,
Sub:Request for consideration of candidature for admission to degree course at School of medicine in Havana or ELAM.
It gives me great pleasure being able to contact someone who can help me with this issue sirs. I am Reshma Nilofer, daughter of com.Amarantha - who has been to Cuba and has translated numerous works on Cuban revolution and its achievements in various fields like education, medicine and disaster management. She has been the driving force for bringing to light Socialist Cuba and recent developments , to the numerous lakhs of tamils in Tamil Nadu(INDIA), Canada, Sri Lanka,France,etc. She has exposed me to the various achievements of Socialist Cuba and its government under Comrade.Fidel castro and fellow comrades. It has taken me by awe and wonder.Having known about the drastic overall improvement of the Society, I would like to pursue the course leading to medicine degree in Cuba. it would give me a great chance to experience and be part of a peoples’ revolution. Given a chance i would be able to help the under previleged and poor communities in my country. I have tried numerous means (or two years now)h the embassy here yet have seen no actions taken.Pls help. I have completed higher secondary(10+2) in 2006 with 188/200-94% in biology, 91% overall in science and 89% overall including languages. I would be a very promising student I assure. In class ten science score was 91% aggregate with languages included was 87&#xRi;ght now I have completed two years of course in B.E.Marine technology with 5months sailing experience onboard a foreign going merchant ship. Given the prvilege of studying medicine in Cuba, I am prepared to quit or discontinue my present course. I am so interested in pursuing this degree course in Cuba because it is Cuba that has stood as a beacon of light and hope for the exploited, diseased, underprevileged peoples of the World. Please help. Please note my mother is a divorcee has brought me up facing many difficulties. Please consider this as an application. I have no other means to contact anyone else.
thanking you.
Yours sincerely
Reshma Nilofer.V

Pranjal said...

to reshma,

i just read this post as i am considering applying to elam as well and i would suggest contacting the school, directly in cuba if possible. perhaps we can discuss your situation further. my email is i am also indian and very interested. hope you check this again.

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