Seminar on Nelson Mandela –Fidel Castro Collaboration Program (NMFCCP)
The Dean of Teaching and Learning at UKZN’s College for Health Sciences, Professor Sinegugu Duma, recently hosted a seminar on the integration of the Nelson Mandela-Fidel Castro Program (NMFCCP). The main aim of the seminar was to address challenges raised by students who are currently part of the programme.
The concerns raised by students included the perceived absence of political will to fix the challenges that had been raised by previous cohort of students over the last 20 years.
Duma and the team of academics felt that the time is ripe for UKZN, together with other universities and the national Department of Health to contribute in finding solutions that are informed by student voices.
‘Locally, the Task Team on NMFCCP remains committed to work with all stakeholders to address the identified challenges,’ declared Duma.
She thanked the students for the professional manner in which they raised their concerns. Duma said although the seminar may seem reactive, some research has already been conducted by UKZN staff on the experiences of the NMFCP students in the past.
Academic Co-ordinator, Dr Munira Motala and Developmental Lecturer, Ms Buhle Sithole presented the findings of their research respectively at the seminar.
‘Interestingly, although the presentations were conducted with different cohort of students from the current NMFCCP students, there were similarities with the concerns raised by the current students, thus confirming the need to act swiftly to address this at both national, provincial and local level,’ observed Duma.
The discussions were guided by the following questions: What has been your experiences on transitioning into the SA programme? Differences in curricula from both countries and related challenges?, opportunities and strengths of both programmes?
‘Although there are many challenges experienced by the students in Cuba and during their transition into a UKZN MBChB curriculum, they also shared positive experiences of the exposure to a different country with a fully functioning primary care health system,’ she said.
In Cuba, they witnessed the best relationships between doctors and their patients, families and even communities, where all health professionals have genuine care for their patients. On the positive experiences with transitioning into the UKZN MBChB curriculum, the students seemed excited with the fact that “finally we are doing and learning real medicine” and “we are becoming competent in performing clinical skills on our own like real doctors”.
‘We hope that the students will maintain and share more of what they learnt in Cuba,’ Duma said.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini