Brazil contracting more Cuban doctors
CUBA STANDARD – Brazil is adding 3,000 Cuban doctors this week to the
2,400 Cuban doctors already in the country since September under the
Mais Médicos program, Brazilian officials announced.
This exceeds the previously announced number by 1,400; more Cuban
doctors may be contracted to reach the ambitious goals of the program.
Revenues for Cuba at the current level of staffing are estimated at $250
million per year.
In May, the Brazilian government announced it would contract 6,000 Cuban
doctors, but it backtracked as local physicians joined a wave of street
protests in summer. Then, the Brazilian health ministry and the Pan
American Health Organization (PAHO) announced Aug. 21 to contract 4,000
Cuban doctors as a backbone for a fast-expanding medical program in
needy regions of Brazil.
“As long as there are Brazilians without a doctor, we will continue to
bring professionals into the program,” Health Minister Alexandre Padilha
said in a communiqué Nov. 5. “Mais Médicos is a first step towards a
major transformation of healthcare in the country.”
With the arrival of the additional Cuban doctors this week, the program
will include 6,600 professionals, the health ministry said, adding that
it wants Mais Médicos to grow to nearly 13,000 doctors by March 2014.
The health ministry has had a hard time finding enough Brazilian doctors
to fill the spots.
Brazil agreed to pay Cuba, via PAHO, $4,000 per doctor each month, of
which the doctors will receive only a fraction. The Cuban doctors are
contracted collectively through the Cuban government for three-year
terms, to fill “vacancies not chosen by Brazilian and foreign
professionals” in individual recruitment efforts under Brazil’s Mais
Médicos program, a press release by Brazil’s health ministry said.
The PAHO-Brazil agreement is a major breakthrough for Cuban efforts to
diversify its for-pay medical service exports. While service exports a
decade ago surpassed tourism as Cuba’s largest hard-currency generator,
by far most of the healthcare exports are under agreements with oil-rich
Venezuela. More than 20,000 medical personnel from Cuba work in
Venezuela, or in third countries under programs funded by Venezuela.
Just weeks after the Brazil agreement, Ecuador announced in September it
would contract 1,000 Cuban doctors for $30 million a year. Also, Cuba
has been expanding more limited medical service programs in South
Africa, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Portugal and Algeria. Finally, Norway and
Brazil have funded medical relief efforts involving Cuban doctors in Haiti.
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