HAVANA TIMES — Brazil’s main medical associations harshly criticized the Brazilian government on Thursday for its decision to “import” 4,000 Cuban medical doctors to try and compensate for the deficit reported in over 700 municipalities around the country, DPA reported.
According to Brazil’s Federal Medical Council (CFM), the decision, announced Wednesday night by the Ministry of Health, is an “irresponsible” and “disrespectful” measure which merely seeks to secure electoral support for the president.
“It is irresponsible to hire doctors from abroad, be they Cuban professionals or Brazilians who have studied abroad, without first verifying their qualifications,” Council Chair Roberto D’Avila declared on divulging the statement that hiring foreign professionals “is a human rights violation and places the health of Brazilians at risk.”
The CFM also announced that it would take legal action to prevent the hiring of professionals from other countries without a previous examination (generally demanded of foreign doctors) and a test verifying their ability to speak and understand the Portuguese language.
Geraldo Ferreira, President of Brazil’s National Federation of Medical Doctors (FENAM), also criticized the decision and stated that Cuban doctors work under contracts that subject them to employment conditions reminiscent of “slave labor.”
According to Ferreira, Brazil is to pay the Cuban government 10,000 reales (some 4,081 US dollars a month) for the services of each health professional. These doctors, however, are to receive a mere 300 dollars a month, of which 15 percent will be destined to their families.
Brazil’s Minister of Health Alexandre Padilha announced Wednesday night that he is unaware of the amount Cuban medical doctors are to be paid for their work and stated that it is not Brazil’s place to ask.
The decision to “import” 4,000 Cuban medical doctors was announced in Brasilia by Padilha, after Brazil signed an agreement with the Pan-American Health Organization (PHO), valid until February of 2014, for the sum of 208 million dollars.
According to the Minister of Health, 400 Cuban health professionals will arrive in Brazil next weekend to work in cities whose needs have yet to be met in the first phase of the Mas Medicos (“More Doctors”) program, launched by the government in spite of protests by Brazilian doctors and which only managed to cover ten percent of the positions offered.
A second group of 2,000 doctors is scheduled to arrive in Brasil on October 4. The last group is expected to arrive in Brazil before the end of November, Padilha added.
The arrival of the Cuban doctors has stirred up controversy and prompted criticisms of Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, who made declarations before the Foreign Relations Commission of the Lower Chamber on Thursday to deny any “ideological connotation” in the decision to hire Cuban medical doctors.
According to Patriota, the decision is “not ideologically motivated” and has to do only with “the lack of medical professionals in Brazil.”
“There are many Cuban doctors willing to do this kind of work. There are probably not that many Austrian doctors willing to do it, for instance. Our idea is to bring over those doctors who are willing to work here. This isn’t an ideological issue, it’s a humanitarian issue,” he stressed.