The wait is over – 85 student nurses off to Cuba
Health & Beauty
November 17, 2006

The wait is over – 85 student nurses off to Cuba

They waited but the wait was not in vain. Earlier this week 85 Vincentians flew out to Havana to start the first leg of their Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.

Minister of Health Dr Douglas Slater personally bid the students good bye while Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves used his address at the Unity Labour Party Women’s Arm to cry shame on the detractors of the programme.{{more}}

Calling it an “anti-development stance” Gonsalves lighted into critics whom he said sought to mislead the public by claiming that the Cuban programme was merely to train nurses aides.

“Instead of looking at the programme objectively, they criticised it (asking) why is it that people with CXC’s and O’levels want to go to Cuba to be trained as a nursing aide. They asked no one about the facts,” he told the convention, explaining that Cuba had conceptualized the training programme for the entire region in an effort to combat the shortage of nurses.

Turning to the New Democratic Party, he said their criticisms were “backwards”.

“Now I thought I fought that backwardness 20 years ago. I did not know that in the 21st century I still had to be fighting that backwardness, (fighting) people who are holding this anti-development stance. (Those holding this) stance against the interest of the working people and young women are the same persons who, when they were in office, in some years trained not one single nurse and in other years (trained) 20 nurses,” Dr Gonsalves said Sunday.

On Sunday 45 students flew to Cuba and Monday the other 40 left.

Dr Slater said that as the country moved from an agriculture-based economy to a service-oriented industry there was need for retraining.

“For that reason we are expending as much emphasis as possible on the traning of our people. It is no coincidence that education has been one of the pivot areas and emphasis by our government and we think if we could educate our people in various fields they will be better prepared to service families, the country and provide themselves with an opportunity to get out of poverty,” he said.