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O N L I N E   E D I T I O N
Volume 9, Issue 2   Spring 1999

Building Joint Programs With Cuba: The MEDICC Experience

by Gail Reed

Havana—"Coming to Cuba reminds me why I decided to become a doctor". This comment by a Us medical student after rotating for eight weeks through a clinical elective here may be the single best statement of what Cuba's commitment to health brings to US physicians-in-training and to the larger US medical community, which in turn reflects the evolving philosophy of Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC), which sponsors these courses: the best joint program is grounded in real contributions from both sides towards common goals, where there is no single `receiving end'. Axiomatic on paper—as difficult as it is imperative in practice. With Cuba, there is at least a century of US pretensions hovering over the table from the outset.

Historical context is, after all, the place to start. The undisputed equality in which partners sit at this table is in itself a redress of grievances, a recognition that this has not been the norm for official and most unofficial relations between the two nations for the last 100 years, where the Cubans are still fighting for their rightful place.

MEDICC began in 1997 with several essential ideas in mind:
First, that Cuba's practice of universal primary health care, its astounding results in health indicators in the face of devastating economic indicators, and its medical research capability in vaccines and other drugs were exceptional experiences of interest to the US medical community.

continued . . .


9th Annual Forum Conference in Phnom Penh a Huge Success

by Amanda Hickman

After 8 years of holding the Conference of the Forum on Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in the US, the Conference was held in Indochina for the first time, and the response was very positive. What follows is a summary of the presentations given in plenary sessions at the conference. Readers may want to keep in mind that many of the issues in the forefront of people's minds in Cambodia in January have been resolved, at least to some degree, by the time of this writing. Cambodia was accepted into ASEAN on April 30. The Consultative Group met in Japan and pledged $470 million in assistance.

Introduction and Welcome

Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng opened the conference and welcomed everyone to Phnom Penh with an overview of the current political situation in Cambodia. He observed that ninety percent of the population participated in the July elections, and that in August, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan agreed that the election was democratic. The government formed by Hun Sen in November complies with the Cambodian constitution. For two decades, he noted, the civil war has destroyed Cambodia's infrastructure and devastated the Cambodian people. The process of building a democracy and rehabilitating the country is still young, only five years old, but is progressing.

The new government is confident that it can strengthen peace and stability in Cambodia while continuing to respect human rights. Socio-economic development requires that the country improve confidence in the legal system, the army and police, and government administration. This will allow the country to raise Cambodia's standard of living and alleviate poverty. The Royal Government, he explained, is also committed to demining lands and expanding farming opportunities for destitute Cambodians. The government welcomes and congratulates NGOs, who are integral to the country's development and rehabilitation. New NGO laws in the works will make NGOs more effective in partnership with the government.

continued . . .

The Forum on Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam would not have been possible without the financial and in-kind support support from the following:

Oxfam America
World Bank Small Grants Program
Ford Foundation - Vietnam
SIDA - Cambodia
SIDA - Laos
CIDSE - Cambodia
CfBT Education Services - Cambodia

  Mennonite Central Committee - Cambodia
Mennonite Central Committee - Laos
Institute of International Education
VVAF - Vietnam
World Education
Save the Children Fund - USA
Cambodia Brewery Limited - Tiger Beer
Cambodia Beverage Company - Coca~Cola

Special Thanks also go to the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vietnam - USA Society, the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Star Kampuchea, the Council for the Development of Cambodia, Sunway Hotel in Phnom Penh, CCC, the Cambodian NGO Forum, and the NGO Resource Center in Hanoi.


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Indochina Interchange: O N L I N E   E D I T I O N

John McAuliff, Editor-in-Chief           Amanda B. Hickman, Managing Editor

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