No female students from the Muslim-populated inner-cities (zongos) were ever selected for any training in gynaecology in Cuba by the previous administration as claimed by former President John Mahama, Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has said.
At the Al Sunna Eid prayers at the Efua Sutherland Park in Accra on Sunday, 11 August 2019, Mr Mahama said: “About six years ago, when we got scholarships to send some of our children to Cuba to train as doctors, there was something significant we did. We deliberately decided to source girls from the Muslim communities to be part of the training, especially in the area of gyneacology.
“Our Muslim women who have difficulty when they have to go and consult medically for their reproductive health, prefer that a female doctor looks after them.
“Our plan was to train female doctors from our Muslim community, so that when they come back, we can strategically place them. That will make it possible for our mothers and others who want to consult for their reproductive health to have our sisters who have qualified as doctors to be able to look after them”, Mr Mahama noted.
Dr Nsiah Asare has, however, said there was never anything like what the former president said.
He told journalists on Monday that: “No student was trained in gynaecology from the batch sent to Cuba then as claimed by former President John Mahama. In all, there were 217 General Practitioners and two Physiotherapists in that batch”.
Dr Nsiah Asare added: “One needs to graduate as a General Practitioner before he or she can even specialise. So, it is wrong for the former President to allude that they deliberately sent female students to Cuba to be trained in gynaecology when they had not even been trained as general practitioners”.
“It is the current government which has sent 30 graduates to specialise in Cuba, which is a novelty,” the GHS boss noted.
Just recently, the government of Ghana announced that the Cuban government has accepted to train 40 brilliant but needy medical students a year from Zongo, inner-city and other deprived communities in Ghana.
This followed a proposal by Ghana’s Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia to the Government of Cuba to extend the special arrangement between the two countries for the training of health personnel in deprived communities.
Dr Bawumia made the proposal when he held bilateral talks with the President of Cuba, H.E. Miguel Diaz-Canel as part of a two-day official visit to the Caribbean country.
According to officials, the programme will begin next year. Gender parity (20 males and 20 females) will be ensured in the selection of the students to be trained as medical doctors.
The President of Cuba noted that over the years, the government of Cuba has tried to demystify the training of doctors by making sure the study of medicine is not the preserve of the elite. Cuba has 80,000 doctors as a result.
He lauded Ghana’s efforts to offer medical training to brilliant but needy students from poor communities like the zongos and inner-cities and said that Cuba is ready to support Ghana in achieving its goal.