Northern Cape based medical students say they are ready to provide primary health care to the public. Some 10 students arrived in Kimberely on Sunday, after studying in Cuba through the Nelson Mandela-Fidel Castro training program.

An emotional welcome, after six years of training in Primary Health care in Cuba, Eathon Pekeur is happy to reunite with his family. The 26-year-old is more than ready to show off his what he was taught.

“We have endured through all the ups and the downs, missing home and missing the family.  Sometimes we have communication problems. We have been through three hurricanes so we are still standing. We are prepared to start again in South Africa and do what we need to do,” says Pekeur.

As per their training, the students aim to prevent illnesses and not merely cure them. Learning and studying in a foreign language was not easy for them.

“We had to learn Spanish in six months and then school started, there were ups and downs but like we said we just continued. Now six years later to have another language something we can have for the future,” says student doctor Maytho Leburu.

The provincial Department of Health which has admitted to facing a shortage of medical professionals is excited. It believes the arrival of the students in the province will bring much need relief to the ailing health sector.

“The Mandela-Castro program focuses more on primary health care and that is where the need is in the province. So it’s quite exciting to know that in less than a year you will have doctors in clinics across the province,” says Northern Cape Health MEC, Fufe Makatong.

Eleven more medical students are expected back in the province during the week.

This will provide 21 extra student doctors in the province.