Almost two dozen Saint Lucian medical students will soon embark on their journey to Venezuela, after receiving scholarships by its government to pursue a seven-year course in community medicine.
The young men and women will study at the Salvador Allende University of Health Sciences, funded by the ALBA group of Latin American and Caribbean nations.
The community medicine program proposes to train doctors with an elevated social, humanistic, ethical, scientific and technical commitment. The program strives to train health professionals to offer holistic medical attention to patients, advocating for them and working to heal and rehabilitate the individual, their families and the community.
Saint Lucia's Health Minister Alvina Bertrame Reynolds welcomed the Venezuelan initiative at a time the Saint Lucian government seeks to strengthen health services in rural areas and communities across the island, saying this area of care needs specialists.
“Students, parents, what a wonderful gift to the people of Saint Lucia in giving us an opportunity to be trained and come back medical professionals,” she said.
“You are well needed to help us fight this battle, because you are going to study integral community medicine. It doesn’t place you only in a hospital. It places you directly, personally in the community and I really salute Commandante Chavez and Commandante Castro for that vision.”
Venezuela’s Representative in Saint Lucia, Leiff Escalona, says her government is happy to be strengthening ties with Saint Lucia in both education and health.
“It is a social, scientific career. It is a future for your family, for your country too and for the people of Saint Lucia. Of course, it is a pleasure for the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to continue with this support,” Escalona said.
The scholarship includes tuition fees, air travel, medical care, lodging and a monthly allowance. According to the requirements of the scholarships, applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 24 and come from low income households.