A group of 5,016 doctors received their degrees Saturday as specialists in Integral General Medicine in Venezuela during a ceremony presided over by President Nicolas Maduro.
The large cohort was part of training program designed to facilitate access to higher education to lower income groups. These doctors, likewise, will work in low-income areas throughout the country.
“You will give love, health, knowledge, human warmth, quality of life to thousands and thousands of men and women in their homes, especially in very humble homes, those who never in their life had a hand, a word, treatment with affection, love, (and) closeness,” said Maduro.
The Venezuelan President said that the program that trained this cohort would be expanded in order to train more specialists and ensure every Venezuelan has access to a doctor. He mentioned that the goal was to have 60,000 new doctors trained in the coming years.
Maduro added that his government also intended to expand Barrio Adentro — the highly-lauded program that brings doctors directly to communities — to all of Venezuela.
The Barrio Adentro program is partially modeled on the Cuban health system, which prioritizes preventative care.
Venezuela's health system has not been immune to the challenges presented by the economic crisis in that country, which has been driven by the collapse of oil prices. Although many hospitals face shortages, Venezuelans can still count on primary care delivered by the Barrio Adentro program.
Maduro added that at least 200 Integral General Medicine specialists would travel to Haiti on Monday to assist with humanitarian efforts in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which left over 800 dead in the Caribbean nation.