Venezuela Creates New Holiday to Commemorate Community Medicine School

October 10, 2008 ( Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez created a National Day of Integral Communitarian Medicine this Wednesday.

Chávez created the commemorative day, which is on October 8, during a ceremony for the third anniversary of Venezuela's Integral Communitarian Medicine School, which is also the 41st anniversary of the murder of Latin American revolutionary leader and doctor Che Guevara.

"Che said that a doctor should be a man of the collective. Che was a true integral doctor, an authentic revolutionary," said Chávez.

There are now 10,168 students completing their third year of integral community medicine in Venezuela, 5,697 in their second year, 4,566 in their first year, and 3,481 in the pre-medicine stage, and 867 Venezuelans are studying in the Latin American Medical School (ELAM) in Cuba, Chávez said.

The Integral Communitarian Medicine program trains "socialist" doctors to provide free, non-discriminatory health care that integrates prevention and curing, and treats the individual in conjunction with the community and society at large.

There is no tuition for the program and the state provides a monthly stipend for student living expenses.

"Mercantilist, inhuman, insensitive medicine should be replaced by our integral communitarian medicine. This is our committment," said President Chávez Wednesday.

A student in the program Diannela Rojas, said during the ceremony, "We the students, inheritors of Bolivarian thought, display and ratify our commitment to consolidating the change in our country and strengthen the project of Simón Bolívar."

Second year medical student Lisbeth Marca said the people in her community now consider her the "people's doctor," and that she never would have been able to study medicine if this program had not been created.