Cuban Health Minister Defends Sending Doctors to Brazil

Cuba’s Public Health Minister Roberto Morales

HAVANA TIMES —Minister of Health Roberto Morales Ojeda became the first Cuban government to comment on the criticisms leveled by Brazilian doctors to the agreement that allows Brazil to “import” several thousand Cuban MDs to work in places with poor health care services, reported dpa news.

After visiting a clinic in the northeastern city of Jaboatao Guararapes, which neighbors Recife, Morales said that Cuban doctors do not come to Brazil to “provide services,” but in the spirit of “collaboration.”

“We do not discuss services, but instead collaboration, integration. As the historic leader of our revolution, Fidel Castro, would say, you can only save mankind from death through peace and cooperation,” Morales told the UOL Brazilian communication company.

Morales also rejected accusations from Brazilian medical associations, which argue that Cuban professionals receive only a fraction of the salary of 10,000 reals (US $4,200) per month paid by the Brazilian government to foreign doctors who come to the country under the program “More Doctors” launched by President Dilma Rousseff.

According to the official, unlike the physicians contracted from other countries, the Cuban doctors were not hired individually, but are sent to Brazil as part of an agreement between the two governments and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

“We’re not hiring individual doctors. In the case of Cuba, it is an agreement with PAHO and the Ministry of Health of Brazil ,” said Morales, who said his country currently has international missions in 60 countries where a total of 45,000 total doctors are working.

“Every one of them (the Cuban doctors) has a job in Cuba, a workplace, a salary, and guaranteed health care for themselves and family for free, as well as free education,” he added .

In turn, the PAHO director, Carissa Etienne, who accompanied Morales and Brazilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilha, in visiting Jaboatao Guararapes, said the system adopted by Cuba to send doctors to other countries does not violate labor rights or human rights.

“This is how Cuba works . They have sent doctors to the whole world,” she said.

According to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, the More Doctors program has thus so far attracted 3,663 doctors from various countries, 2,400 of them Cubans, catering to the population of 1,098 municipalities and 19 indigenous people’s districts.

Rousseff’s program was launched in response to the mass protests that shook Brazil in June, with demonstrators demanding better public health, transport and education services.