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Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela exactly 20 years ago. Photo: Yoav Yemmer

PRETORIA.— A new group of 22 Cuban doctors arrived May 29 in South Africa to continue the fulfillment of a cooperation agreement signed by Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela exactly 20 years ago.


The doctors bring the total number of medical professionals serving in the country to 320 and will begin working in Free State, located some 465 kilometers south of Pretoria.

“They have come to help implement a public health system similar to the one we have in Cuba,” said Dr. Alberto Antonio Yánes, head of the medical mission in South Africa, speaking with Prensa Latina, who added, “The country’s healthcare leaders and those in each of the provinces where we have collaborators (eight of nine total) are very interested in applying the experiences of our health system.”

Cuba’s support in the area of health is very important to the country where infectious diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis must be confronted, Dr. Yánes stated.

The newly arrived doctors are in their majority family medicine specialists, but the group also includes anesthesiologists, pediatricians, gynecologists, and psychiatrists, he reported, noting that they will be placed in Free State where Cuban medical professionals have been working for 20 years.

Mandela’s first foreign policy act after assuming the Presidency in 1994 was establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, and ties which were forged in the anti-apartheid struggle have continued to grow and be strengthened.

There are currently 500 Cuban collaborators serving in the country, including doctors and engineers, in 129 locations across the country, while 3,100 young South Africans have studied medicine in Cuba.

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