Brazil drops plan to import Cuban doctors
BRASILIA | Mon Jul 8, 2013 3:31pm EDT
(Reuters) – The Brazilian government, under pressure to improve public
health services, has dropped plans to import a contingent of Cuban
doctors and is instead looking to hire physicians in Spain and Portugal,
the Health Ministry said on Monday.
The plan to bring in Cuban doctors created a backlash because of
questions about their qualifications. Brazilian medical associations
argued that standards at Cuba’s medical schools were lower than in
Brazil and equivalent in some cases to a nursing education.
Brazil was rocked last month by massive protests fueled by frustration
with a high cost of living and deplorable public transportation,
education and health services, plus anger over the billions that will be
spent to host the 2014 World Cup.
In response, President Dilma Rousseff is moving to expand public
services, crack down on corruption and hold a non-binding national vote
to see what other reforms Brazilians want. Her push to improve services
comes even as the government tightens the reins on overall spending in
an effort to preserve fiscal responsibility.
Later Monday, Rousseff is scheduled to announce a national health plan
to hire 35,000 doctors through 2015 to practice in remote parts of the
country and poor outskirts of Brazilian cities. The plan also will
increase slots at medical schools and fund the building and upgrading of
In May, Brazil’s government said it was in talks with Cuba to hire 6,000
Cuban doctors to serve in remote parts of the country where medical
services are deficient or non-existent.
In the past decade Cuba’s communist government has sent 30,000 doctors
to work in poor neighborhoods of Venezuela, Havana’s closest political
ally. Under an agreement reached with the late Venezuelan leader Hugo
Chavez, Cuba sent doctors in exchange for cheap oil.
Instead of a contingent Cuban doctors, Brazil’s Health Ministry will
hire foreign doctors where needed on an individual basis. Each foreign
doctor, a ministry official said, will individually apply for the work
“We never reached a deal with Cuba. Now the priority is Spain and
Portugal,” the official said.
Cuban doctors can apply, he said, but ads offering doctors work in
Brazil will be posted in Spain and Portugal, not in Cuba.
Last week, Brazilian doctors staged demonstrations in several cities
opposing the hiring of foreign medics. The government maintained that it
will do so to fill gaps left by Brazilian doctors who prefer not to work
in remote areas.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Paulo Prada)
Source: “Brazil drops plan to import Cuban doctors | Reuters” –