Cuba is set to increase the number of medical doctors operating in Zimbabwe on a Government-to-Government arrangement, a development that is expected to deepen bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
Cuba’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Carmelina Ramirez Rodriguez, said more doctors, including specialists, are expected in Zimbabwe once discussions between the two countries were concluded.
Ambassador Rodriguez said this while briefing journalists soon after meeting Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also Minister of Health and Child Care, at his Munhumutapa offices.
“Today we came to meet the Vice President in his capacity as Minister of Health and Child Care, as you know we have a cooperation agreement in the medical field where we have doctors in Zimbabwe,” she said. “We intend to increase the cooperation by raising the number of the medical profession and in different specialities.
“Now we have 32 senior doctors in different provinces. We have Bulawayo Mutare, Chinhoyi, Harare.”
Asked how many medical doctors they will deploy, Ambassador Rodriguez said they were still discussing those requirements with the Zimbabwean Government.
“It is up to Zimbabwe, but Cuba is always open to help Zimbabwe and to increase that cooperation,” she said.
She said the discussion with VP Chiwenga centred on the higher and tertiary education sector, where Cuba has professors working as lecturers at Bindura University of Science Education “We also talked about cooperation in education, particularly about Bindura University,” said Ambassador Rodriguez. “We need to increase professors at Bindura University, we have looked at the possibilities to increase the number of professors.”
Turning to challenges, Ambassador Rodriguez said the language barrier had always been an impediment during the initial stage of deployment as most Cubans did not speak English, but Spanish.
“But when they leave after the end of their tour of duty, they will be able to speak good English and Shona, the other one is to integrate the Zimbabwean culture,” she said.
She said Harare and Havana enjoyed deep-rooted relations, which dated back to Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.
When she met Senate president Cde Mabel Chinomona last year, Ambassador Rodriguez called for stronger ties between Zimbabwe and Cuba.
Zimbabwe and Cuba share a common history, with both countries reeling under unjustified United States sanctions, which seek to influence global politics either through war or other punitive measures.
Ever since revolutionary icon and extraordinary political figure Fidel Castro launched the Cuban medical doctor diplomacy soon after 1959, the Caribbean island nation has used this as a major source of diplomatic soft power and pride.
Yesterday’s meeting was also attended by Health and Child Care Deputy Minister John Mangwiro.