Cuba Sending 3,000 More MDs to Brazil

Cuban doctors arriving in Brazil during phase one of the "More Doctors" program.  Photo:
Cuban doctors arriving in Brazil during phase one of the “More Doctors” program. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — More than 3,000 Cuban doctors will start arriving in Brazil on Monday to join the government program “More Doctors” which seeks to bridge the shortfall of public health services in the country’s poorest regions.

According to the Ministry of Health, the Cuban doctors enrolled in the second phase of the program will arrive in the cities of Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Fortaleza and Sao Paulo. In the first phase over 600 doctors arrived to Brazil in August and September.

A total of 2,600 doctors will be coming to the South American country between Monday and next Sunday, and another 400 starting November 11.

The newly arriving doctors, like those who came in the first phase, will begin with an evaluation course to determine if they are prepared for the assigned task.

The Brazilian Health Ministry expects to have the 3,000 new doctors working in the More Doctors program by December, living in regions where there is a shortage of doctors in the interior of the country as well as in the peripheries of large cities.

At the time of its launch, the program generated resistance from Brazilian medical associations, who went so far as to take legal proceedings against it and hold demonstrations protesting the presence of the foreign doctors. They also tried to block the issuance of permits so the doctors could start working.

Despite the resistance, the Health Minister Alexandre Padilha, said: “As long as there are Brazilians without a doctor we will continue bring physicians to take part in the program,” adding that the program is “a first step in a major transformation in the nation’s health.”

According to the Brazilian Health Ministry a total of 3,600 doctors are currently participating in the program, serving the population in 1,098 municipalities and 19 indigenous districts located mostly in the poorest regions of the country, such as the North and Northeast.

The government’s expectation is that by later this year the program will have around 6,600 doctors attending “more than 22.7 million people.”

While non-Cuban foreign doctors and Brazilians who graduated at medical schools abroad enter into a an individual contract with the Brazilian government, the Cubans do it collectively through an agreement signed between the Ministry of Health of Brazil, the Pan American Health Organization (OPS) and the Cuban government. For that reason, the Cuban doctors do not receive their pay directly, but do so through their government.

Also, the Cubans, unlike other doctors who participate in the program, do not choose where they will work, going to the places that were not chosen by other doctors.