Pretoria, South Africa.- Cuban Deputy Minister of Public Health Alfredo Gonzalez completed a visit to South Africa today, during which he met with local authorities on existing cooperation in this sector and its future development.

Gonzalez, who was received today by leaders of the governing African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), held an interview yesterday with the country’s Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, with whom he reviewed aspects of the collaboration initiated in 1996 on the initiative of the deceased presidents Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro.

The vice minister told Prensa Latina that Motsoaledi will travel to Havana in September to sign the agreement which will continue bilateral collaboration in this area, including the participation of Cuban doctors in health care in this African nation and that of South African students in the study of medicine on the Caribbean island.

In Cuba, 2,800 young people from South Africa are studying medicine, 703 of whom have just returned to this country to study their last year of training at local universities.

As established, South African medical students study for five years in Cuba, and the sixth year is spent in medical schools linked to higher education institutions in their country.

On his last day in South Africa, Gonzalez exchanged impressions with ANC International Relations Subcommittee Chair Lindiwe Zulu at a meeting during which the close ties between the two governments, parties and peoples were reiterated.

The Deputy Minister explained to Zulu the activities carried out during his stay in South Africa and Cuba’s interest in strengthening health collaboration between the two States, and Zulu stressed the importance of this collaboration in both the provision of medical services and the preparation of young South Africans for this career.

The issue was also discussed during a meeting with Reneva Fourie, member of the Political Bureau and the Central Committee of the SACP, during which the historical links between the Communist Parties of Cuba and South Africa, characterized by solidarity, friendship, exchanges and cooperation, were recognized.

Gonzalez’s visit to South Africa began on Sunday with his participation in the graduation in Cape Town of 57 South African doctors trained in Cuba, who the official said were trained in the principle of Education at Work.

This concept of teaching has as its objective both the solid professional training and the students’ commitment to their people based on social, humanist, ethical and revolutionary values, he explained.

The Deputy Minister paid tribute to Mandela in commemorating the centenary of his birth and said that he was ‘an unforgettable fighter, leader of the South African people, a man of universal stature, a close friend of Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro and the people of Cuba’.