A group of students from Namibia, studying abroad in Cuba are accusing the ministry of health for leaving them destitute in the island.
The group that consists of about 250 students, with the majority studying medicine and the rest dentistry are on a scholarship that was made possible through an agreement that was signed by the two parties, Cuba and Namibia.
Under the agreement, the Namibian government is liable for the payment of the tuition fees, accommodation fees and monthly allowances of the students and through the department of health provide medical aid for the students.
But according to the concerned students, they last received their allowances in February this year and told the media that their scholarship agreement says that allowances are paid every three months at the beginning of November, February and May.
The students have added that they are medical aid has also expired and has not been renewed.
One of the scholarship beneficiary, Tuwilika Nfuka told the media that they have approached the health ministry for their issues to be addressed but they haven’t been successful.
According Nafuka the expiry of their medical aid, it has forced them to seek financial support from the Namibian Embassy in Cuba as the ministry of health continued to not address their issues.
Furthermore, Nafuka told the media that last week a student was rushed to hospital with an issue of appendicitis but did not receive medical attention because his medical aid has expired and later the Namibian Embassy in Cuba paid out to cover the student’s bill.
A human resources director at the ministry of health, Hudson Sisinyize reportedly told the students that there are no funds to pay their allowances responding to the enquiry by the Namibian International Students’ Organisation (Namiso).
“The budget for the current financial year has not yet been released, hence there are no funds to pay allowances at the moment,” he said.
The Namiso-cuba president, Batchotep Katumbo says the delay in issuing out students’ allowances has made life difficult for them as they must find alternative to support themselves.
The health ministry has denied the claims that this is a crisis and the public relations officer at the ministry said they haven’t received any complaints from their students about their allowances.
“There is no crisis. Students’ allowances are paid on a quarterly basis. For this year, students in Cuba received the lump sum up to April 2019,” he said.
And further added that in a case of any medical emergency, the Namibian Embassy in Cuba is tasked to handle it.
However, the students have maintained their words that the ministry of health has left them destitute.
Koketso Ramorei is a journalist and news editor of SADC News with years of experience in a number of genres including sports, politics and community reporting. He has worked for a numerous publications including The Citizen Newspaper and is a former editor of a Johannesburg-based off-campus publication called The Waldorfian Times.