What Cuban Ambassador trip to Mwanza means to residents

MWANZA: IF history is still fresh in your mind, you will recall that on 20th Mar 1970, the then Cuban President Fidel Castro, accompanied by some Cuban workers visited President Julius Nyerere (the Founding Father of the nation) Ruvu in Tanzania to have firsthand information of his country’s aided agricultural school (Ruvu National Service Camp).

Since then, the friendship between Cuba and Tanzania has flourished, where currently, the country’s Ambassador to Tanzania Mr Yordenis Despaigne also visited the Lake Zone area (Mwanza) to witness see progress in the health sector with their support.

In particular, Mwanza University students taking Medical Doctor (MD) courses translated the trip as a symbol of success, after listening to his speech.

In quick analysis, Mr Despaigne was at the institution for diplomatic talks after the University though the Ministry of health requested that they be provided by lecturers-medics from the country to enhance their studies.

Preparing a ground for 15 Cuban medical doctors arriving in 2025/2026 academic year, who will also be lecturers/specialists in different areas to train Tanzania students pursuing medicine, it was another occasion to witness the true friendship between the two countries.

“Current, about 200 Tanzanians are pursuing medical doctor courses in Cuba, with about 26 Cuban medical specialists also being in various parts of Tanzania, be it Dar e Es Salaam, Mbeya, Zanzibar and Mwanza. This is to testify that the health sector is prioritized in our relationship,” said the Ambassador.

The trip was also for the envoy to familiarize with the institution’s learning environment and see areas, where the Cuban specialists could propose for adjustments.

That came with the background that the university is for the first-time offering Medical Degree courses in this academic year, with the practicals being scheduled in the third year. SQ019557 Given the fact that Cuba is advanced in medical issues, the students commented that the presence of the specialists means a lot to them as well as the country, including addressing the existing shortage of such experts in Tanzania’s health sector.

“Filling the gap comes when the specialists will be transferring their expertise to us. We, in turn, will be doing the same to our fellow locals, while also providing advanced medical services to Tanzanians,” said a-first year student, Mr Albert Mmari, who also doubles as the University Students’ organization president.

He expressed gratitude to the institution’s administration for requesting foreign medical specialists as well as thanking the Ambassador for giving a nod to the request.

On behalf of his fellow students, the president assured cooperation on their side so that the specialists’ arrival would mean success in the targeted goals. Commenting, the institution’s Vice Chancellor, Prof Flora Fabian, assured the envoy that the Cuban specialists will have good stay in Mwanza, since the University is set to embark on a-12 storey building for them, adding that its top space will serve as their lodging apartments.

Again, she added, a larger space of the building will serve as the hospital, to ease the practical studies for medical students.

“We are thankful that the Ambassador walks his talk. When he told us that he would visit us, we didn’t expect it would be this early. We are also glad that he found a conducive environment beyond expectations as we have heard him expressing his appreciation here,” she pointed out.

Through his Interpreter, Mr Sultan Said, the Ambassador commented on the environment, including availability of important facilities for medical students. He added: “By now, at least  900 Cuban medical specialists have served the Tanzania health sector.” In his itinerary, the Ambassador also visited Bugando Zoan Referral Hospital, where three Cuban doctors work with the locals to improve their skills and knowledge in the medical realm.

The Ambassador assured that his government remains committed to continuing solidarity and collaboration with Africa, especially Tanzania that is peaceful in the Great Lakes Region.

On his part, Bugando Director General, Dr Fabian Massaga, described the visit as historic and professional to them. At the Regional Commissioner’ office, the envoy also expressed his willingness to explore possibilities of establishing collaboration projects in areas such as agriculture, fisheries and health.

Welcoming the ambassador, Mwanza Regional Commissioner, Mr Amos Makalla highlighted historical ties of friendship between both nations and the support that Cuba has provided to Tanzania in sectors such as health, education and agriculture.

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