Lessons learned from the educational process in the career of Medicine in Guinea Bissau


Lessons learned from the educational process in the career of Medicine in Guinea Bissau


Lecciones aprendidas del proceso formativo en la carrera de Medicina en Guinea Bissau



Yurieth Gallardo Sánchez, Leonor Núñez Ramírez

Granma University of Medical Sciences. Cuba.




Every day the Cuban medical education has a greater impact before the international community for its educational, medical caring and researching achievements. In recent years, Cuban professors from the "Raúl Díaz-Argüelles García" Faculty of Medicine in Guinea Bissau have written honorable pages, so the authors intend to share the lessons learned during this period and their implications in the educational process, such as a starting point for academic and administrative decision-makers in the improvement of quality indicators, so that this solidarity work continues to improve and gain greater visibility throughout the West African region as an extended stamp of what has been achieved in other regions of the world.

MeSH: education, medical, education, medical, undergraduate, teaching.


La educación médica cubana cobra cada día mayor impacto ante la comunidad internacional por sus logros docentes, asistenciales e investigativos. En los últimos años, los profesores cubanos de la Facultad de Medicina "Raúl Díaz-Argüelles García" en Guinea Bissau escribieron páginas honrosas, por lo que los autores pretenden socializar las lecciones aprendidas en este periodo y sus implicaciones en el proceso docente educativo, como punto de partida para los decisores académicos y administrativos en la mejora de los indicadores de calidad, con el propósito de que esta labor solidaria continúe perfeccionándose y adquiera mayor visibilidad en toda la región del África Occidental como huella extendida de lo alcanzado en otras regiones del mundo.

DeSC: educación médica, educación de pregrado en Medicina, enseñanza.



Today the university institutions are called to be creators of the integrating consciousness of all their processes, and they are projected towards the search of solutions to the social problems, both in Cuba and in other nations, where the internationalization process is of great importance.1

The training of foreign students in medical sciences began in 1960, date from which new Faculties of Medicine have been created with Cuban teaching and advisory participation.2,3 It is worth mentioning the Program of Comprehensive Community Medicine in the sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that has been developing for some years.

In 1983 the first analyzes on the possibilities of founding a School of Medicine in Guinea Bissau by mutual agreement between the presidents of Cuba and that of the already mentioned country. Decree law 31/986 of October 23, 1986, published in the supplement BO 4386, formalizes its creation under the tutelage of the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba, under the name of "Raúl Díaz-Argüelles García".4

The training process in this academic institution has its particularities in correspondence with the socio-political context of that country, but that influence the teaching-learning process; so the authors wish to share some lessons learned in three years of compliance with the internationalist mission (2013-2016). Among them are:

  • The solidarity and humane spirit of the teaching staff to develop the teaching-learning process.
  • The scientific and methodological preparation of its teachers to teach the analytical programs of the different subjects of the curriculum.
  • The incorporation of Guinean professors graduated in Cuba in the disciplines of English, Physical Education and Psychology.
  • The students' heartfelt motivation to receive a quality education and serve the people of Guinea Bissau.
  • Full support of the parents' council for the successful achievement of the training process of their children.
  • Take advantage of all the teaching sites that the Guinean health system has for the achievement of the skills by the students in the different rotations.
  • The existence of a weakened primary health care that hindered the acquisition of skills in the training model of these students (university polyclinic).
  • The infrastructure for the basic cycle of the career with good conditions and according to international standards.
  • The political will of the government of Guinea Bissau to carry out the training of doctors, however unfortunately, the agreements agreed with the Ministry of Health in the declared period were not observed.
  • Computer laboratories are increased in the training sites for doctors with equipment donated by companies or non-governmental organizations based in the country.

There were also negative experiences that were counterproductive to the quality of the process:

  • Insufficient teachers for the high enrollment of the faculty, which made it difficult to dedicate the necessary time to the students learning due to the high pressure of medical care. Great disparity in the teacher-student relational binomial.
  • Insufficient material resources that conspired against the successful development of the teaching-learning process, occasionally, due to non-compliance with established agreements.
  • Breach of the relief plan of the medical brigade that prevented the normal development of the process regarding the start of the academic year, which caused readjustments that led to limitations of the content of the subjects.
  • Insufficiencies in the premedical course in terms of the time established that attempted against the quality in the use of the Spanish language of freshmen.

When analyzing the deficiencies expressed, we agree with Borroto et al5 when they refer to the fact that the formation of human resources is not only a technical issue but also a political one; and with García Yllán et al.6 in the recognition that the atmosphere of solidarity, camaraderie and mutual respect between students and teachers confers fluidity to the development of the teaching process, and that this personal binomial demands to strengthen human values: humanism, sensitivity, simplicity, respect for human dignity, honesty, internationalist vocation, complete dedication to creative work, altruism and patriotism.

Despite the pressure of medical care, the interest in the fulfillment of teaching was always present, all committed to the words of Castro Ruz7 when he said: "... if we want to be a medical power, we have to be a power in medical teaching ..." Health professionals in the land of Amílcar Cabral were summoned to this call of the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution.

The increase in enrollment is an important factor to take into account for the development of the teaching-learning process. In the above mentioned faculty it has always been in a with a rising tendency as it's observed in the figure. The authors consider that the precarious acquisition of the Spanish language by students due to inadequacies in the premedical course brought about difficulties in grades quality.

Another element to consider was the entry of students by different sources: private or state, although it was possible to form an entry commission with participation of the Ministry of Higher Education of Guinea Bissau to define the guidelines of a selection as accurate as possible in accordance with the academic level reached by each student in the pre-university. The opening of computer labs was a strength in the Bafatá region and in the "Simao Mendes" National Hospital since all the bibliography was in digital format, and not all students had the chance to enjoy personal computers.

The authors expressed some notable aspects that marked the teaching-lerning process of medical training in the sister Republic of Guinea Bissau; in their opinion, valid as a starting point for the academic and administrative decision-makers in the improvement of the quality indicators of the "Raúl Díaz-Argüelles García" Faculty of Medicine, which would be perfected, making this supportive work obtain the required quality, greater visibility throughout the West African region and the moral recognition of the reliability of Cuban medical education as an extended stamp of what has been achieved in other regions of the world.


Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



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Submitted: July 2 2016.
Accepted: November 28 2017.



Yurieth Gallardo Sánchez. Granma University of Medical Sciences. Cuba. E-mail: gallardo.grm@infomed.sld.cu

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