On Tuesday, September 9th, 2003, in a media release, the Trinidad and Tobago Health Ministry said Cubans are not required to do the Caribbean Association of Medical Councils (CAMC) exam as the Medical Board of Trinidad and Tobago (MBTT) has registered graduates of Cuban Medical Schools and graduates of medical schools in foreign countries. The Health Ministry said there is no legal requirement for the CAMC exam. “In order to register doctors to practise, all that is required is a proper assessment of the doctors’ training, qualifications, experience and competence and this has been the procedure in this country for the last 40 years,” the release stated. An official of the Council of the Medical Board said those graduates referred to were Trinidadians who study in Cuba. Other foreigners registered would have been graduates from the list of schools recognized by the Medical Board. ..As pre-requisites for registering the Cubans, the Ministry had only to certify that the Cubans could communicate in English and that their schools were recognized...
The MBTT appointed in January 2011 by the present Government of Trinidad and Tobago, has decided that Trinbagonian Cuba-Trained doctors (who have graduated from Cuban Universities recognized by the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago before UWI was recognized, who speak English, Spanish and "Trini", served 1 year internships in both Cuba and in T&T, were graded "A" on the job, and were accepted for House Officer Doctor positions by Regional Health Authorities), should not be granted any licenses to further practice medicine, until they have written CAMC examinations and done CAMC practical exams. These doctors have been out of jobs since November 2010, and the next written and practical examinations will be around November 2011. Meanwhile, as at Dec 2010, T&T is in shortage of 275 doctors, 2,517 nurses and 161 pharmacists!
One argument presented by the newly appointed MBTT, is that the Language of Instruction of their medical training is NOT English. Yet, one would expect that a trilingual (Trine, English and Spanish speaking) Trinbagonian doctor would be prized instead of being undervalued.
The other argument presented by the newly appointed MBTT against the Trinbagonian Doctors, is that Cuban Medical Schools are “Non-Traditional”. Yet, these are Cuban Medical Schools that have been accredited by the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) even before the University of the West Indies (UWI). Founded in 1728, 283 years ago, The University of Havana, is the oldest university in Cuba and one of the first to be founded in the Americas. UWI is now 60 years old. Which university is more traditional?
In keeping with amendments to the Medical Board Act in cases of a shortage of medical practitioners, “Special Temporary Licenses” were issued by “a panel” chaired by the Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health, to about 250 doctors from about 35 countries with “Non-Traditional” Medical Schools. Many “Special Temporary License” holders are Cuban doctors who have served or are serving in Trinidad and Tobago without writing CAMC exams for as many as 5 years. Yet Trinbagonian Doctors educated in Cuba who studied the same Cuban course contents in the same Cuban universities are also being denied these “Special Temporary Licenses”.
Are the MBTT and the Minister of Health acting in violation of T&T’s “The Equal Opportunity Act” and “Integrity in Public Life Act - Code of Conduct”? Can the Prime Minister bring reason to the Minister of Health and the MBTT?
JuanidAlJameel is based in Tunapuna, Tunapuna-Piarco, Trinidad and Tobago,
and is a Stringer for Allvoices.