Outline of the fundamental aspects of the agreement that South Africa has entered into with Cuba with regard to the 20 years celebration of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between South Africa and Cuba

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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO: 91 (NO1620E)

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO. 5-2016 OF 25 MAY 2016

91. Ms D D Raphuti (ANC) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:

With regard to the 20 years celebration of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between South Africa and Cuba, can she outline the fundamental aspects of the agreement that South Africa has entered into with Cuba?

REPLY:

Our relations with Cuba date back to the trenches in the liberation struggle against Apartheid. In December 2013, when South Africa was, mourning and celebrating the life and legacy of our national icon Nelson Mandela, we witnessed a historic handshake between 2 leaders (Presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama) of countries that had not engaged each other in more than half a century. This embodied the reconciliatory spirit of former President Mandela and was the key step in the thawing of relations between the Cuba and the United States of America.

While the year 2014 marked 20 years of formal diplomatic relations between South Africa and Cuba, 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of bilateral cooperation, given that the first Cuban doctors arrived in South Africa in February 1996.

South Africa will be hosting a programme to mark this milestone in South Africa-Cuba bilateral relations. The proposed programme has a domestic component building up to the Cuban component during which Minister Nkoana-Mashabane is envisaged to participate in December 2016.

In view of the celebration of 20 years of formal bilateral cooperation between South Africa and Cuba, it is assumed that the Honourable Raphuti is referring to the series of Agreements with Cuba on Cooperation in the Field of Health.

The Government of the Republic of South Africa signed:

an Agreement on recruitment of medical doctors in the city of Havana on 20 November 1995

a Declaration of Intent in Cape Town on 30 October 1996 and

an Extension of the Collaboration in the Field of Health on 31 January 1997.

All of these agreements were considered when the Government of the Republic of South Africa signed an Agreement with the Government of the Republic of Cuba on Cooperation in the Field of Health on 30 March 2001.

The cooperation that was agreed on was in the following aspects:

(a) Recruitment of Medical Doctors and Lecturers in Cuba,

(b) Training of South African Medical Students and Postgraduates in
Cuba,

(c) Exchange Training of South African and Cuban Health Researchers and Specialists,

(d) Exchange of Medical Technology and

(e) Any other programme or activity as may be agreed upon between the Parties.

The Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Republic of Cuba however signed a new Agreement on Cooperation in the Fields of Public Health and Medical Sciences on 25 May 2012 which substituted any Agreements previously signed between the 2 governments on cooperation in the field of Health.

The cooperation that was agreed on in the 2012 Agreement on Cooperation in the Fields of Public Health and Medical Sciences was very similar to the cooperation that was agreed on in 2001, namely:

(a) recruitment of medical doctors and lecturers from the Republic of Cuba

(b) training of South African medical students and postgraduates in the
Republic of Cuba,

(c) exploration of possible mutual interests in the fields of biotechnology
Production and the development of pharmaceuticals and any other field of
scientific research; and

(d) any other program or activity that may be mutually agreed upon between the Parties.

As a result of the cooperation agreed on in the 2012 Health Agreement, more than 2900 South African medical student are currently studying in Cuba, including 80 students on Cuban scholarships.

501 South African students, many from previously disadvantaged communities, have graduated so far from the medical training programme in Cuba. These doctors are providing much needed primary healthcare services to their local communities.

Finally, 230 Cuban medical staff are working in SA, mostly in rural areas. 

The SA-Cuba Agreement on Cooperation in the fields of Public Health and Medical Sciences will be in force until May 2017 where-after it may be extended for a period of 5 years.

Following the success of bilateral cooperation in the sphere of health, various projects and additional areas are being pursued in fields as diverse as arts and culture, sports, trade, agriculture, education, housing and water affairs.

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