HAVANA TIMES — Cuban medical doctors taking steps to revalidate their professional licenses in the United States are facing a new dilemma.
The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), the institution empowered to certify the medical licenses of foreign graduates, has announced that it will be unable to continue processing requests made by professionals from Cuba, Crimea and Sudan as a result of restrictions from the Treasury Department.
“The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury currently restricts interactions between U.S. organizations and entities in certain countries/regions, including Crimea, Cuba, and Sudan,” an ECFMG communiqué published on July 2 announced.
The Commission declared that it has requested OFAC licenses that will authorize processes related to the verification of medical credentials in these countries and to process the pertinent ECFMG certification and that, until it does not receive approval, it shall not proceed to offer services related to the revalidation of submitted credentials.
“We regret any inconvenience to our applicants and thank all of our clients for their patience and cooperation,” the communiqué added.
The OFAC refused to offer details regarding the processing of medical licenses.
The revalidation of Cuban medical licenses, however, has been put on hold, de facto, until further notice. This situation affects hundreds of doctors who were in the process of revalidating their degrees.
On Thursday, the Miami-based organization Solidadridad Sin Fronteras (Solidarity without Borders, SSF) called on local, state and federal authorities, requesting they find a quick solution to this problem.
Cuban medical doctors have also mobilized. On Monday, an open petition addressed to the ECFMG was published on the Internet. It requested an “immediate revision of these policies and restoration of normal services to Cuban applicants just like any other applicant from anywhere else in the world.”
The petition, which has collected over 800 signatures, draws attention to the fact a similar situation involving Iranian doctors was resolved effectively by the ECFMG in the past.
“It’s unjust to many medical doctors who have already invested thousands of dollars in their exams to revalidate their degrees in the United States,” SSF chair Julio Cesar Alfonso declared. The entity has worked to receive and guide Cuban and Latin American doctors who wish to revalidate their degrees in the United States.
Stranded in Third Countries
This Friday, SSF will offer a press conference before medical doctors to condemn the recent developments that have been preventing Cuban doctors from reinserting themselves into their professional practices.
Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of Cuban doctors have been stranded in third countries while waiting for a travel visa, after enlisting in the Cuban Medical Professional Program (CMPP), a refugee program for professionals who leave medical missions abroad, implemented by the US government in 2006. In addition to facing these delays, other doctors have met with travel restrictions after their visas were suddenly revoked before boarding the plane.
“We are completely convinced that all of these irregularities are related and we fear for the physical and moral integrity of our colleagues, stranded in third countries, as well as for the professional future of those who have arrived in this great nation legally, wishing only to offer their knowledge to the country, which is now facing the greatest medical professional deficit in the history of the United States, hoping only to contribute the experience that the American people dearly need,” the SSF communiqué announced.
The organization added that it has complete confidence in the clarity of the decisions made by US authorities and that, as such, it will publicly condemn any unjust action and will not tolerate “any assault on human rights or discrimination on the basis of origin or nationality by any private entity or individual that affects our colleagues.”
Cuban medical doctors can contact the ECFMG at (215) 386-5900 or via email, at [email protected].