Updates from Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC) and a touch of Cuban rap music

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US Medical Students at ELAM in Havana

Our colleagues at MEDICC, Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba, have been very busy over the past several months and it seemed time for an update about their activities:

Nineteen US students graduate from ELAM (The Latin American School of Medicine)

This July 19 US students graduated from the Medical University of Havana’s Dr Salvador Allende Health Sciences Faculty.  They were a part of nearly 1400 international medical students who got their MD degrees in Cuba last month.  (See our previous post on How US students can get a free medical education in Cuba). MEDICC has posted pictures of some of the happy graduates on its website.

Chicago graduate Dr. Mena Ramos

This year is the 7th in which US students have graduated from ELAM; Dr. Cedric Edwards was the first US graduate in 2005.  Readers who would like to know more about ELAM should consult Don Fitz’s article published in the March Monthly Review entitled The Latin American School of Medicine Today.  This article goes over both the strengths and challenges of study in Cuba.

MEDICC support for US students studying at ELAM

The process of picking US students for scholarships is managed by IFCo/Pastors for Peace.  MEDICC, through its MD Pipeline to Community Service program has been playing a key role in helping these students make their transition back to clinical practice in the US.  This has involved financial assistance in the form of form of MNISI fellowships that allow students to prepare for and take their US licensing board examinations.  The fellowships are vital to make sure that ELAM graduates get positions in US residency programs and do well in those positions.  But MEDICC has also developed a mentorship program to give ELAM students practice working in US clinical settings.

If you would be interested in donating, $100 will  defray the costs of US exam fees and prep courses; $250 will allow students to prepare for their US board exams with 1,000 online practice questions; and $750 will  pay the full cost of one US Medical Licensing Exam.

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Would you like to become a mentor?

MEDICC is looking for US health care professionals who would be willing to mentor ELAM students. I personally have mentored several and found them to be a bright and highly motivated group anxious to demonstrate their history and physical examination skills (in fluent Spanish).  MEDICC’s Rachel True is responsible for the mentorship program and writes:  “As the cohort of US ELAM students continues to grow, so does our need for mentors all over the country.  We are currently looking for more mentors in the following areas of the country:  Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Texas, Southern states (AL, MS, LA), Chicago, Los Angeles, and the Midwest (MN, ND, MI).  If you have any colleagues or friends who might be interested, please let them know about our program and put them in touch with me.  If you would like me to provide you with a brief description of the program, I would be happy to do so.”

Achieving Universal Health Care: A New Issue of MEDICC/Review

 MEDICC Review, the International Journal of Cuban Health and Medicine, published its most recent issue in July; the issue is entitled Achieving Universal Health Care and contains articles from Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Cuba, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.  The full table of contents is given below.  I was particularly interested in an update on medical schools who were seeking to be socially accountable (i.e. to train graduates who met the health needs of their countries, Roundtable: Revisiting Innovative Leaders in Medical Education) and a brief description of changes to the Ecuadorean health system (Sumak Kawsay: Ecuador Builds a New Health Paradigm). Following a new 2008 constitution health in Ecuador has been declared a right and discussion is underway about how build a care system built on sumak kawsay, a Quecha phrase translated as collective well-being.   This idea has been related to the concept of sustainable development as well as the Brazilian formulation of collective health (the Brazilian form of social medicine).

Finally, some collective well-being captured on the streets of Havana

For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, these are the “rappers of the third age”, i.e. geriatric rappers. The lead singer informs us that she has” five children, 11 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and nothing stops me from singing and dancing.”

MEDICC Review, July 2011 Table of Contents


Equity Matters


Roundtable: Revisiting Innovative Leaders in Medical Education

André-Jacques Neusy MD DTM&H and Bjorg Palsdottir MPA


Cuban Maternity Homes: A Model to Address At-Risk Pregnancy

Conner Gorry MA

Special Article

Global Pharmaceutical Development and Access: Critical Issues of Ethics and Equity

Agustin Lage MD PhD

Original Research

Intentional Injury in Young People in Vietnam: Prevalence and Social Correlates

Linh Cu Le MD MSc PhD and Robert W. Blum MD MPH PhD

Cuba’s Strategy for Childhood Tuberculosis Control, 1995–2005
Gladys Abreu MD MS PhD, et al.


Raising the Profile of Participatory Action Research at the 2010 Global Symposium on Health Systems Research

Rene Loewenson PhD(Med) MScCHDC, et al.

Population-Level Approaches to Universal Health Coverage in Resource-Poor Settings: Lessons from Tobacco Control Policy in Vietnam

Hideki Higashi MPH MSc, et al.

Health Systems in an Interconnected World: A View from Nigeria

Seye Abimbola MD MPhil

Ethiopia’s Health Extension Program: Improving Health through Community Involvement
Hailom Banteyerga PhD

Making the Right to Health a Reality for Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples:

Innovation, Decentralization and Equity

Vera Coelho PhD and Alex Shankland DPhil

Impact of Court Rulings on Health Care Coverage: The Case of HIV/AIDS in Colombia

Ana Cristina González MD MA and Juanita Durán LLB


Cuban Research in Current International Journals


Sumak Kawsay: Ecuador Builds a New Health Paradigm

César Hermida MD MS


posted by Matt Anderson, MD


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