170 U.S. Medical Students have now Graduated from the Latin American School of Medicine

August 2, 2017

ELAM, Photo: Bill Hackwell

The Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) was started in 1998 after Hurricanes Mitch and George devastated much of Central America and the Caribbean. The idea came from President Fidel Castro who had a vision of rather than sending teams of medical professionals from Cuba to help out during times of natural disasters it would be much more impactful to train doctors from those countries to go back to serve in their own communities.  Soon after Fidel invited students from underserved areas in the United States to come and be trained at ELAM after hearing from several members of the Black Congressional Caucus that there were whole impoverished districts throughout the South that had no medical clinics in them at all. All of this training has been provided absolutely free with the one stipulation being that the graduates had the moral obligation to go back to serve in their communities after graduating. Cuba’s view on health care is a global one without a price tag on it. A number of these graduates will be coming to Washington D.C. to participate in the Days of Action against the Blockade of Cuba, September 11-16. For more information go to: http://theinternationalcommittee.org/days-of-action/ .

One hundred and seventy medical students from the U.S. have graduated in Cuba, thanks to the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), an initiative launched by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro.

Speaking exclusively to the Cuban News Agency (ACN) Zenia Díaz Catalá, director of the general secretariat of the ELAM project, noted that since the first graduation in 2005, to date, over 28,500 medical students from 103 countries have studied and graduated, completely free of charge, from ELAM.

Dr. David Floyd from the U.S. graduated from the school in 2017, and expressed his gratitude to the Cuban government, people, and teachers and workers affiliated with this noble project, which also stands as an example of how integration among communities from around the world can contribute to creating a more humane world.

“It’s been an incredible experience for me. I’m impressed by the link between theoretical and practical study, which is different from the U.S. system and that of other countries”, noted the young doctor.

He went on to say, “In Cuba you learn by touching the patient, and solidarity is really important. In my country, students don’t help each other, here both the students and professors support one another and are extremely professional”, stated Floyd, an African American man who studied on the island for six years, including pre-med courses.

The young doctor completed his degree at the Salvador Allende Faculty of Havana’s University of Medical Sciences, which saw a total of 52 international students graduate this year – 25 from the United States, according to the institution’s dean, Dr. Suiberto Echavarría.

David Floyd senior, father of the recent medical graduate, expressed his joy, pride and eternal gratitude for the opportunity his son has been given to study medicine in Cuba, where the training system is centered on humanist ethics and principles.

Meanwhile, Díaz Catalá noted that the ELAM program currently includes 4,690 students from 112 nations enrolled in 21 of the country’s medical sciences universities, 83 of whom are from the United States.


Source: Granma