Venezuela Graduates First Cohort of Doctors for Acclaimed Health Program

Venezuela’s community health program Barrio Adentro made important strides yesterday with the graduation of the first group of Venezuelan doctors from the Cuban system of General Integral Medicine.

By Chris Carlson - Venezuelanalysis.com
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Mérida, April 11, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Venezuela’s community health program Barrio Adentro made important strides yesterday with the graduation of the first group of Venezuelan doctors from the Cuban system of General Integral Medicine. President Hugo Chávez also announced the upcoming inauguration of the Latin American Medicine School in Caracas this Sunday.

After a three year program of studies, 1,013 Venezuelan doctors graduated yesterday in General Integral Medicine, the Cuban-developed system of preventative health care. These Venezuelan doctors will now be able to replace their Cuban colleagues who have been working in Venezuela for the last 4 years in the Barrio Adentro (Inside the Barrio) program.

"This is one of the huge differences between neo-liberal capitalist governments and a socialist government," said President Chávez in his speech during the graduation ceremony yesterday in the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas.

Chávez criticized that neo-liberalism and capitalism seek to privatize national health and education systems, condemning millions of people in the world to "suffering, pain and death."

Barrio Adentro, the national health system established by the Chávez government, has for the most part relied on Cuban doctors to staff the thousands of new clinics built around the country since its inception in 2003. Some 20,000 Cuban doctors and assistants now work in Venezuela as a part of the cooperative partnership between Cuba and Venezuela.

The goal of the Venezuelan government is to train the required Venezuelan specialists to replace their Cuban counterparts over the next few years. According to Adolfo Delgado, President of the Venezuelan Bolivarian Society of General Integral Medicine (SVBMGI), the nation will require six thousand specialists to be trained over the next 6 years. 

The Venezuelan doctors receive a postgraduate degree in General Integral Medicine from the Institute of Higher Studies in Public Health (Iaesp) in Venezuela. The program focuses on basic medical care at the community level and educates the students through hands-on training in community health clinics.

"We hope to achieve a total consolidation of Barrio Adentro I, the first level of attention which is preventative medicine," said Delgado. With the first stage of the program, which consists of thousands of community health clinics, a solid base is guaranteed in which 80 to 90 percent of all health problems can be treated, according to Delgado.  The next stages, Barrio Adentro II, III, and IV, are for more advanced treatment.

The Venezuelan government claims that 18 million people, about 70% of the population, have been treated through the Barrio Adentro program, and that thousands of lives have been saved.

Latin American Medical School

During the graduation ceremony, President Chávez also announced the inauguration of the Latin American Medical School (ELAM) in Caracas.  Next Sunday, April 15th, Chávez will be inaugurating the first International Course of medicine in the new school.

The school, with a capacity of 1,900 students, will be the second of its kind following the opening of the first Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, Cuba in 1999.

Like its counterpart in Cuba, the new medical school will train students from all over Latin America in General Integral Medicine and will provide training, materials, housing, food and uniforms to the students free of charge.

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