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Why does Brazil say goodbye to Cuban doctors?

More than 8,000 Cuban doctors will stop providing their services to people living in the poorest and most remote areas of Brazil

Why does Brazil say goodbye to Cuban doctors?

Más Médicos (More Doctors) is the name of the program created in 2013 by the then president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. Through a tripartite agreement signed by the governments of Brazil and Cuba with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), this program facilitated the hiring of foreign doctors who arrived in the South American country to provide their services to the inhabitants of the most humble and remote areas.

Leer en español: ¿Por qué Brasil dice adiós a los médicos cubanos?

In this sense, the Cuban doctors covered the places that were not occupied by Brazilian doctors or of other nationalities, who in exchange preferred to practice in the big cities of the country. However, the conditions in which Cuban doctors worked generated disagreement in Brazil, generating a demand for these conditions to change and improve, in order to allow their continuity.

In response, the Cuban government rejected the Brazilian demand and decided, unilaterally, to stop being part of Más Médicos, withdrawing the more than 8,000 professionals who provided their services in the poorest and most remote areas, generating a high social cost.

Are doctors exploited by Cuba?

That is, apparently, one of the issues that generated disagreement and that caused the government of Brazil to demand from Cuban better conditions for the doctors, in order to continue participating in Más Médicos. According to analysts, Cubans critical of the government of their country and the same Brazilian authorities, the Cuban government exploits the doctors who provided their services in Brazil.

According to them, only 30% of their salary is paid and they are not allowed to take their families with them. This is compounded by the fact that under the conditions established by the governments of both countries with PAHO, doctors are not asked to revalidate or homologate their titles, which is another cause of discomfort and disagreement on the part of Brazil.

"They should be allowed to bring their families and make their revalidations so that they can be independent in Brazil and that, in addition, the salary that is given to the doctors, as it should be, comes directly to them and not through the government Cuban who gives them a misery," said Dr. Julio César Alfonso, president of the Association Solidarity without Borders in Miami.

Speaking to La Voz de América, Alfonso said that the Más Médicos program is a financial income channel for the government of Cuba, given the export of doctors and medical personnel to other countries, being for many years (in his words) a very lucrative business for the government of the island.

For his part, journalist Andrés Oppenheimer pointed out to El Nuevo Herald of Miami that, according to the agreement between the governments of Brazil and Cuba supervised by PAHO, Cuban doctors not only receive only 30% of their salary but also the 70% remaining is in the hands of the Cuban government.

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"What is equally scandalous, the Cuban regime does not allow Cuban doctors to take their families with them, their families remain in Cuba as hostages, to reduce the risk of mass desertions. If doctors desert, they cannot return to the island and see their families for at least eight years," said Oppenheimer

Beyond the questioning, the Cuban government defended the Más Médicos program and its participation in it, explaining how (at their discretion) the program works and how it is linked to doctors who are exported to Brazil and other countries. In a statement issued by the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba, the Cuban government said:

  • "With direct, derogatory and threatening references to the presence of our doctors, it has been declared and reiterated that the terms and conditions of the Más Médicos program will be modified, with disrespect for PAHO and the agreement with Cuba, when questioning the preparation of our doctors and condition their permanence in the program to the revalidation of the title, and as the only way individual contracting.
  • Employees (doctors) have been kept at all times the job and 100 percent of their salary in Cuba, with all labor and social guarantees, as the rest of the workers of the National Health System.
  • The announced modifications impose unacceptable conditions and breach the guarantees agreed upon at the beginning of the program. These inadmissible conditions make it impossible to maintain the presence of Cuban professionals in the program, therefore, faced with this unfortunate reality, the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba has taken the decision not to continue participating in the Más Médicos program, and has thus communicated it to the director of PAHO and the Brazilian political leaders who founded and defended this initiative."

While Cuban doctors leave Brazil, the Brazilian government works so that by the next December 3, according to Infobae, the 8,332 vacant positions will be filled by Brazilian doctors.

LatinAmerican Post | Samuel Augusto Gallego Suárez

Translated from "¿Por qué Brasil dice adió a los médicos cubanos?"

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