Rousseff Deplores Hostility to Cuban MDs

“Immense prejudice” of Brazilian physicians

Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Raul Castro when the Cuban leader visited Brazil in June 2012.

HAVANA TIMES — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said today that the manifestation of hostility towards the Cuban doctors arriving to work in regions of the country where health care is precarious reflects a “huge bias” by Brazilian professionals, reported dpa news.

“It’s a huge prejudice which sometimes manifests itself against the Cuban doctors,” the president said today in an interview with radio stations in Belo Horizonte.

Rousseff questioned “how any place in the world there could be an obstruction to the arrival of specialized professionals to help the country when it does not have enough doctors.”

“We did an assessment of the country and we learned that there are 700 municipalities where no doctors live,” said the president, who said that this led to the government’s decision to create the “More Doctors” program and offer higher salaries to Brazilian MDs and foreigners who agree to work in those remote areas.

Rousseff’s criticism was directed to the hostile environment unleashed in Brazil after the government’s announcement on the arrival in the country of 4,000 physicians from Cuba to work in poor and isolated municipalities that fail to attract Brazilian professionals.

The Cuban doctors, who began arriving this weekend to Brazil, have been met with hostile demonstrations by their peers in various cities.

The most serious incident occurred Monday in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, where Cubans were booed by their Brazilian counterparts, who branded them as “slaves”, claiming that payment for services will be made directly to the government of Havana, which will give them only a portion of the US $ 4,160 per month doctors of other nationalities receive for the same job.

The Cuban doctor Juan Hernandez, in turn, said he and his compatriots came to Brazil to “in solidarity, to improve the living conditions of the population and improve the overall health of the Brazilian people.”

The arrival of doctors from Cuba was made possible by a Brazilian government agreement with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).