Monday, August 11, 2008

In the South Pacific

Vanuatu has become the latest South Pacific nation to welcome with open arms an offer from Havana to send in Cuban doctors.

According to media reports, a surgeon, a pathologist and four general practitioners will arrive in Vanuatu over the next few weeks to provide much-needed services in public hospitals. They will have a two-year contract to serve and will work mainly in provincial areas.

The doctors are at the forefront of an aggressive diplomatic campaign being waged in recent years in the region by the Castro regime, which normally involves offering South Pacific nations supposedly “surplus” doctors, as well as medical scholarships in Havana for local students.

It’s been a huge propaganda win for the regime, as you can see from articles in Left-wing publications such as this one … especially since the impression normally given by Havana is that the doctors are on “humanitarian missions”.

Of course, this is not always the case.

For example, in the case of the Solomon Islands, the host nation pays USD300 a month per doctor directly to the Cuban government, which then pays the doctors a fraction of this to cover “living expenses” – and yes, the Castro brothers keep the difference.

In this latest case, the Vanuatu government will pay for the doctors’ return flights and their accommodation, as well as providing them with what has been described by local officials as “a small a mount of money every month” in the form of an allowance.

Despite the costs, governments in the region are more than happy to take up the offer.

As Vanuatu’s director of public health, Len Tarivonda, told the media, the Cuban doctors will still cost a lot less to hire than similar doctors from either Australia or New Zealand.


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