Gh Medical Students In Cuba Developing Psycho Depression Over Unpaid Allowances

Ghanaian medical students in Cuba are appealing to the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Health, Foreign Affairs Ministry and Ghana’s Ambassador to Cuba with urgency pay their eight (8) months allowances due them.

Sources revealed that the students have not received their monthly allowances since January 2015.

According to some students who spoke to an Accra- based radio station on condition of anonymity, they are facing tough times in the Caribbean country and some of them are developing depression.

Ghana initiated a 7-year medical programme with Cuba in 2012 where 250 students would be trained as medical doctors. This new contract stipulates payment of monthly student allowance of $250, to be paid quarterly, and an annual book and maintenance allowance of $360, a health insurance scheme, accommodation and feeding.

However, since their arrival in Cuba on May 22, 2012, there have been constant delays in the payment of student allowances and this year 2015 has been no different. The students insinuated that they feel neglected by the Government of Ghana.

Describing the economic situation in Cuba, one of the affected students said, “There are shops and supermarkets for the citizens where costs of items are subsidized, where foreigners cannot trade, while those specially made for foreigners are of a higher cost. For every product that exists, foreigners have their own price, even airtime for our cell phones. We cannot afford long communications with our families, but have to travel miles to get internet access at very high cost to even send and receive messages”.

“The academic scheme of Cuba is different; there are weekly examinations, mid semester projects as well as end of semester projects. This means that a medical student in Cuba has to practically study every single day to keep up with the academic schedule, which is money, time consuming and exhausting. Students are required to travel to different hospitals and clinics to carry out their day-to-day consultations and studies,” he lamented.

They further explained that, for a foreigner to live in Cuba without money in his/her pocket, it is a death sentence with some of the students saying, “Money is like blood flowing in our veins because of the system we find ourselves in”.

“We cannot afford the most basic necessities of life and it is so shameful. The support of parents to their wards has amounted to nothing because of the exchange rates of currencies in Cuba,” the dejected students said.

Some of the students in Cuba hinted that there is no money for students to transport themselves to their hospitals to study or do registrations for the next academic year.

Currently, more than half of the student populations have not matriculated, because of lack of funds.

They further explained that Ghanaian students have suffered so much humiliation to the extent that they have been nicknamed “los sobrevivientes” (the survivors) by the locals.

“We consider this an infringement of our human rights and our government must respond to put an INDEFINITE end to delay in students allowances. Someone may argue that other international students are also not paid, but these are different scenes and conditions of life. It is never the same for a student in Russia not receiving his allowances and for a student in Cuba in the same situation. We have understood the government for long. It is high time the government listened to us and fulfilled its end of the contract. Government must protect our interest and make life worth living”.

“All we seek is audience that our cries and voices must be heard. All we seek is for government to comply with the terms of the contract and pay student allowances with utmost urgency. All we seek is that our government should be humane enough and put an end to this injustice. All we seek is our allowances be paid so that we can survive and become the medical doctor it seeks of us”.