Cuba’s 8,000+ Doctors Begin Bye Bye Brazil
November 22, 2018
The more than 8,000 Cubans who work in Brazil as part of the “More Doctors” cooperation program are being asked to leave the country between now and December 12th, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), reported dpa news.
“Some of the doctors have already started to leave the municipalities in the direction of the respective cities from which they will exit,” PAHO said in a statement published on Wednesday.
“It is expected that by December 12 of this year the more than 8,000 doctors will have gradually left the program,” it added.
Nonetheless, hundreds, if not more than a thousand, are expected to try and stay in Brazil under individual contracts. Those that do so will be treated as traitors by the Cuban government, forbidden from entering their country for at least eight years.
The cancellation of Cuba’s participation in the “Mas Medicos” program came after the election of the rightwing candidate Jair Bolsonaro as the next president of Brazil and caused a stir last week both among the doctors and back home.
The program guaranteed health care to some 63 million Brazilians since 2013, according to official Brazilian figures, but it was also controversial because of the working conditions of the Cubans.
The Brazilian State pays about US $3,500 per month for each doctor, but the Cuban MDs only receive about $900.
The rest goes to the State coffers in Havana, which justifies its taking over 70% of the pay by saying that the revenues serve to finance the Island’s free health system.
PAHO operates as an intermediary for the program that began in 2013, under the government of the leftist Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, to bring attention to the most remote rural areas and some poor urban communities of the South American giant.
The Cuban government accused Bolsonaro last week of wanting to change the terms of the contract and of having referred in a “threatening and derogatory” way to its doctors.
The president-elect of Brazil, who takes office on January 1, confirmed that he demanded that Havana pay full salaries to the doctors and end restrictions so that the Cubans can bring their families with them during their time in Brazil, something the Cuban government refused to allow.
In recent days, the current government of the conservative Michel Temer put out an employment announcement for the 8,332 positions to be left by the Cubans in the “More Doctors” program.
The PAHO also received strong criticism in recent days for the working conditions of Cubans in the South American country.
“The organization has agreements with the governments of both countries for ‘More Doctors’, but does not make contracts with doctors, as determined at the beginning of the agreement. The role of PAHO does not include contractual elements between the governments and the contracted doctors”, this American continent branch of the World Health Organization said in its defense.
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Brazil Says No Problem Replacing Cubans for its More Doctors Program
November 24, 2018
The Ministry of Health of Brazil said today that it has already filled 84 percent of the more than 8,000 vacancies for doctors announced a few days after Cuba announced its pulling out from the cooperation program “More Doctors” .
A total of “7,154 professionals are already located in the municipalities for immediate action,” the ministry said in a statement.
According to the authorities, almost 20,000 applicants applied for the 8,517 openings to work in remote and poor areas of Brazil.
The Brazilian government offered the jobs in response to the gradual exit already begun of more than 8,300 Cuban doctors, after the island’s government had a dispute with president-elect Jair Bolsonaro.
The conflict, which had threatened to leave millions of Brazilians without health care, has a strong ideological component.
Bolsonaro, who takes office on January 1, demanded that the “Cuban dictatorship” pay full salaries to the doctors and allow them to take their families while they are in Brazil, as well as saying they must validate their titles according to Brazilian laws.
The Cuban government, for its part, accuses Bolsonaro of referring “derogatorily” and “insulting” its doctors, and of wanting to change the conditions of the contract between the countries.
“Más Médicos” is a program created in 2013 during the government of the Workers Party (PT) president Dilma Rousseff to bring health care to the poorest and most disadvantaged areas of Brazil.
Until now, a large part of the 18,000 doctors who worked in the program were Cubans who arrived through an agreement signed with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Although the program served some 63 million Brazilians from the beginning, according to official figures, “Más Médicos” is controversial because of the working conditions of the Cubans.
Brazil pays about US $3,500 per month for each doctor, although the Cubans only receive between $700 and $900. The rest goes to the coffers of the Government in Havana, which justifies the measure by saying that the income serves to finance the island’s free health system.
Some defections of doctors who left their posts in Brazil to try to sign contracts on their own fueled the controversy in recent years.
Local Brazilian groups warned in recent days about the danger of a “sanitary blackout” in some regions of the country due to the departure of the Cubans, something the government now claims won’t be the case with its success in replacing them.