South African medical students in Cuba lament lack of support from government

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A group of about 150 South African students studying medicine in Cuba has pleaded for donations to acquire basic necessities. They say their stipend is not enough to get them, among others, basics such as medication, food, toiletries and sanitary towels.

They claim that Cuba’s embargo has led to a shortage of amenities which has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students say the prevailing situation has had a negative impact on them.

Some of the students say the situation is so bad that they are even considering quitting their studies.

“Studying medicine in Cuba has not been easy particularly considering the socio-economic conditions that we have had to endure, where we find ourselves having to cue from as early as 4am in the morning or 5am to get basic suppliers if we are lucky to get them on that day. As a results we have reached out to the Department of Health to assist with these products. Unfortunately, we have not been assisted,” says one of the students.

“Our stipend is too little. It cannot afford us all the supplies we need. We do not even have time to go to the shops, because we have to drop everything because in Cuba things are not as accessible as you would think,” says another student.

“We keep on crying but our cries are not heard. Our government keeps promising us things, but it does not deliver. How are we expected to study?” asks another.