Cuba-trained US medics graduate
By Michael Voss
BBC News, Havana
Eight US students are to graduate from a medical school in Cuba where they have spent the past six years training to become doctors.
Their studies were fully funded by Cuba's communist government.
Under the deal, students must return to their communities in the US to offer low-cost healthcare.
The students came to Cuba as part of a deal agreed between President Fidel Castro and members of Washington's Congressional Black Caucus.
The stories of the six medical students are something of a propaganda coup with Cuba, a poor communist Caribbean island, providing free training to medical students from its arch-enemy, the US.
Foreign policy tool
Under the plan, Cuba offers students from deprived backgrounds full scholarships - including tuition, textbooks, food and accommodation.
The single condition is that they must return to their respective communities and provide cheap healthcare to those who cannot afford full-price healthcare.
Senior members of the Cuban government are expected to attend Tuesday evening's graduation ceremony in the capital.
According to the Cuban authorities, more than 80 young US students are currently receiving training at the Latin American Medical School in Havana, whose qualifications are recognised by the World Health Organization.
In recent years, Cuba's free healthcare system has become a key foreign policy tool for winning hearts and minds in the developing world, particularly across South and Central America and parts of Africa.
The government has sent tens of thousands of Cuban doctors abroad to help some of the world's poorest communities.
It also trains large numbers of foreign doctors on the island.
According to the official newspaper, Granma, there are currently more than 5,000 medical students from 25 countries studying in Cuba.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/07/24 17:27:31 GMT