7 May 2013 Last updated at 02:22 GMT
Brazil in talks to hire 6,000 Cuban doctors
Brazil has begun negotiations to hire at least 6,000 Cuban doctors to
work in rural areas, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota says.
Both countries are consulting the Pan American Health Organisztion to
allow Cuban doctors to practise in Brazil.
Most Brazilian doctors are concentrated in the country’s bigger cities,
leaving remote areas badly covered.
Cuba has already sent tens of thousands of doctors to work in Venezuela,
which in turn provides Havana with cheap oil.
There was no deadline yet for the doctors’ arrival in Brazil, Mr
Patriota told reporters after meeting his Cuban counterpart, Bruno
Rodriguez, in the Cuban capital.
A Brazilian doctors’ organisation, the Federal Medical Council, said the
proposal was “irresponsible” because of questions surrounding medical
qualifications. It condemned the step as a “politico-electoral” programme.
The talks with Cuba were initiated by President Dilma Rousseff in
January last year, during her visit to Havana.
At the time, Ms Rousseff also spoke about joint production of medicine,
another topic mentioned by Mr Patriota on Monday.
“Cuba is very proficient in the areas of medicine, pharmaceuticals and
biotechnology and Brazil is considering receiving around 6,000 Cubans
doctors or a little more,” said the Brazilian Foreign minister.
Both countries also discussed infrastructure projects in Cuba “such as
the Mariel port, and also the refurbishment of the airports in Havana
and Santiago, which will also be financed by Brazil,” Mr Patriota said.
Brazil is expected to loan $176m (£113m) from its development bank BNDES
for work at Cuban airports, Reuters reported.
Cuban authorities say Brazil is its sixth biggest trading partner and
main food supplier.
Bilateral trade between the two countries reached a record $661m last
year, up 6% on 2011.