Cuba to Allow Doctors Who Abandoned Their Missions to Return to Country’s Health System

September 5, 2015 |

By Café Fuerte

Cuban doctors attending to patients in Venezuela.

Cuban doctors attending to patients in Venezuela.

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government took a radical turn in its policy towards medical doctors who abandoned international healthcare missions and moved abroad, announcing on Friday it would allow them to return to their positions within the country’s national health system and grant them employment guarantees.

“The health professionals who, under the terms of the migratory reform, have left the country, be it because of financial, family related or professional reasons, including the victims of deceitful brain-drain practices, will be offered the opportunity to rejoin our national health system if they wish to do so, and shall be guaranteed a position with conditions similar to the ones they previously enjoyed,” an extensive communiqué from Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) published in Granma announced.

Change in Policy

The announcement stems from a significant change in the policy Cuba has applied to medical doctors and dentists considered “deserters,” who were barred from returning to the country for a period of at least seven years and from returning to the island’s medical institutions following the invalidation of their degrees.

MINSAP’s declaration reminded readers that Cuba has been forced to adopt migratory controls and regulations to counter talent theft by the US government since the first years of the revolutionary process, and that this government “has continued to follow its interest to destabilize Cuba through lotteries, selective immigration policies and the Cuban Adjustment Act.”

The note criticized the continued application of the Cuban Medical Professionals Parole Program (CMPPP), established in 2006 to offer health professionals who abandon their missions in third countries refuge in the United States. The program has been the object of complaints by Cuba during the talks that have been held since January of this year to re-establish diplomatic relations and normalize ties between the two countries.

“To achieve this, it relies on agents or activists in places where our medical doctors are working under government agreements, who pressure and offer benefits of every kind to those willing to desert and emigrate to the United States, lured by the promise of a better professional future which, in truth, only a small minority will enjoy,” the communiqué explained.

Stuck in Colombia

The new policy is being announced at a time when hundreds of Cuban health professionals find themselves stranded in Colombia after fleeing their missions in Venezuela and Brazil. Following a period in which the CMPPP ceased to be offered to Cuban doctors, protests from medical professionals and pressure from Cuban-American congress people have again set in motion the granting of regular visas for Cubans over past weeks.

Since the close of August and until this past Friday, the US State Department has granted over 170 visas to medical doctors who requested refugee status through the US embassy in Bogota.

The MINSAP note stresses that the country is willing to consider all possible channels to improve the living and work conditions of Cuban doctors.

“We’re working to provide greater access to information technologies, to allow doctors, among other things, to access the latest articles in different specialties, grant scholarships for study abroad and the learning of new techniques (through itinerant groups), encourage participation at national and international congresses and events so that professionals can divulge their scientific research and share experiences with their counterparts,” the communiqué announced.

Big Business

In addition, Cuba’s sanitary authorities underscored that they will adopt the “measures needed” to ensure medical professionals can improve their skills and can give their best within the profession they chose.

The declaration reported that there are currently 85,000 medical doctors in the country and that the island has the best health professional per capita indicator in the world (7.7 doctors for every thousand inhabitants, or one doctor for every 130 people). The number has gone down to 5.4 with the 25,000 doctors currently working abroad (chiefly in Venezuela).

In total, more than 50,000 Cuban health professionals are working in 68 countries around the world.

The Cuban press, however, has recently alerted authorities about the shortage of specialists and family doctors in the country.

In 2014, the Empresa Comercializadora de Servicios Medicos de Cuba (“Cuban Medical Services Company”) expected to take in more than US $ 8.2 billion through the export of medical services to some 40 countries, making the sector the country’s main revenue source.

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  • Javier Vargas

    viva thee Cuban revolution!!!

    • informed Consent

      Hahahaha. Kiss it good by!

      • Javier Vargas

        They been kissing it goodbye for 50+ years………

        • Moses Patterson

          Are you really supporting keeping things as they are? Do you really believe Cuba can survive as a poor socialist dictatorship forever? Capitalism is already a Cuban reality. It’s just a matter of time and degree. Being poor and begging for 50+ years is nothing to brag about.

      • Javier Vargas

        They’ve been trying to kiss it goodbye for 50 plus years..

    • Moses Patterson

      Will you still be blabbering that tired old slogan when there are luxury golf courses, yacht marinas, Walmarts, Starbucks, and McDonald’s fast food in Cuba? It won’t be long now.

      • Tom

        That will never happen Moses Cubans are far to intelligent to let American trash such as McDonald reach their shores….they enjoy humouring you they have been for over 50 years…

        • Moses Patterson

          Fastest growing restaurant chain in Russia? McDonald’s. Armchair Bolcheviks like you said the same thing at the break up of the Soviet Union. Never say never.

        • Informed consent

          Isn’t that up to Cubans to decide? Can you imagine a Cuban having access to Mc Donald’s?….. Aye Dios Mio!!!

          Ok, so McDonalds is not my restaurant of choice. But give a Cuban an opportunity….

          How about a McDonalds “Cuban style” on the Malecon? I shudder at the thought. But it’s not up to me.

      • Javier Vargas

        It won’t happen Moses…… Not like you think!!!!

        • Moses Patterson

          …and a huge banner of the Lord Jesus Christ will never hang in Revolution Plaza. Oh wait. …..

          • Javier Vargas

            And how many exiles are in power in Cuba?

          • Moses Patterson

            Just wait……

          • Javier Vargas

            not going to happen…..

    • George Munyan

      Update your slogan: Viva Walmart.

      • Javier Vargas

        Do you work there? I thought I recognized you as one of the greeters……

  • Donald Thureau

    Someone in the health ministry finally got smart by realizing that they were hurting themselves by classifying all health care workers as “deserters” if they decided to quit their foreign post jobs. There are contractual obligations in a free market society also of course, but they need to be more flexible so that those obligations may be “paid off” in more constructive ways. The days of ramming things into people’s throats whether they like it or not are finally disappearing in Cuban politics. Market competition and free choice are beginning to emerge. Thank goodness!

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      I haven’t noticed the changes you write about..

    • John Goodrich

      Market competition I.e. free enterprise capitalism has absolutely nothing to do with free choice. In the U.S, the model, the exemplar, the imperial enforcer of that system has it returning some 90% of it’s profits to less than 1% of its population in the five years or so since the so-called end of the recession.
      Under FEC , the choices are made for the people by the oligarchy which is the GOUSA. and no, we don’t get to nominate anyone to represent us. The parties do that after the very wealthy have made their choices known.
      But to the central subject, Cuba is better off bringing its doctors back into its own system and reap some benefit from the huge expenses of having trained a them .
      As anyone can see the US for-profit system of healthcare is a massive failure for the people and a massive payday for the healthcare companies.
      Single-payer, government programs like Medicare and most of the wealthier industrialized European countries have are far superior to the for-the-wealthy health care system in the USA .
      Cuban doctors should appreciate a centralized health care system like they have especially since it’s anathema to the GOUSA which is owned in part, by the healthcare corporations .
      IMO

      • Moses Patterson

        Should they also appreciate and embrace their new monthly salaries that will not exceed $60? Keep in mind that a gallon of whole milk, if you can find it, costs more than $9 in Cuba. Should Cuban doctors get all giggly about a health care system that reuses disposable surgical gloves for lack of a sufficient supply? Walk a while in their shoes John before you dare to give uninformed advice as to what they “should appreciate”.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    The Castro family regime has a long history of throwing abuse at those Cubans who endeavor to escape its control and seek freedom.
    Back in 1980 at the time of the Mariel Boatlift when 125,000 Cubans seized the opportunity to escape, the official media in Cuba – which only issues statements approved by the regime, said that those departing their homeland were:
    “criminals, lumpen and anti-social elements, loafers and parasites.”
    When up to 10,000 Cubans sought asylum in the grounds of the Peruvian Embassy in Cuba, Fidel Castro Ruz described them as:
    “Scum”.
    So the term which the regime applied to the medical doctors who sought freedom was relatively mild being:
    “deserters”.
    These expressed views of the Castro family regime towards their fellow countrymen illustrate both contempt for those who do not adhere to their views and seek to escape, and frustration that they are unable to exert control over everybody.
    Let the world not forget the expressed desire of Fidel Castro to incinerate people living in the United States. On October 27, 1962 Castro wrote to Nikita Khrushchev urging an immediate nuclear strike on the United States saying:
    “HOWEVER HARSH AND HORRIBLE SUCH A DECISION WOULD BE, THERE IS NO OTHER WAY OUT IN MY OPINION.”
    With fraternal greetings,
    Fidel Castro
    There are those who criticize any adverse comments made about Fidel Castro but his desire to obliterate the citizens of the United States illustrates classic megalomania. There are those who say that his passing will be mourned around the world. A world into which he sought to introduce the use of nuclear power.
    Let the world remember his insatiable desire to control and to exert power over people!

    • Rich Haney

      Of course, Carlyle, no Batisitano, Mafiosi, Cuban exile, or CIA operative in the last six decades ever did anything that could remotely be considered unsavory or abusive…not assassination attempts, not military attacks, not blowing up hotels, not blowing up a child-laden civilian airplane, not trying to starve Cubans on the island to induce them to overthrow Casro, etc., etc. As a democracy loving conservative Republican, my interest in Cuba concerns how a Cuban policy dictated by Batistiano remnants aligned with easily acquired Congressional cretins and the Bush dynasty distorts the image of the U. S. and democracy in the eyes of the world, particularly the region. The tax-paid regime-change and brain-drain programs shame the legacy of America’s Founding Fathers. A Banana Republic on U. S. soil was not exactly what they envisioned. Your points reflect a Cuban narrative controlled by self-serving anti-Castro zealots. There are two sides to the U.S.-Cuban diaspora and the U. S. democracy should once again be able to embrace that. Bombing a child-laden Cuban airplane and getting away with declaring it “The biggest blow yet against Castro” remains one of the most dastardly and cowardly acts in American history. Trying to hide that under the rug is also disgraceful.

      • Moses Patterson

        The people responsible for the bombing of Flt 455 should have been punished. But what does that have to do Castro’s well-documented history of castigating doctors who want a better life?

        • Donald Thureau

          Yes, I know. I was reading all these responses and most went off on all sorts of tangents not specifically dealing with the subject. I guess that free choice and free market competition are hot button subjects in this forum. Lets hope that the politicians on both sides of the Florida Straits can do a better job of staying on topic and solving one problem at a time.

    • John Goodrich

      You cannot begin to understand how childish and just plain disinformed your posts are .
      There are far too many repeated erroneous points to consider responding AGAIN .
      Do yourself a favor and submit your posts for accuracy to any university professor who teaches political science or economics . At least that way only one person will know how deep your lack of fact goes. .
      Really, it’s what comes of not finishing high school, rarely picking up a book after that and then exclusively watching the corporate media for your ideas and to the exclusion of all opposition thought .
      I read the studies on this sort of behavior and you are textbook. .

      • George Munyan

        Arrogance and insults are never effective for a meaningful conversation.

        • Carlyle MacDuff

          George, I never respond to Mr. John Goodrich. He is a would-be academic of no merit who has never been to Cuba and has no knowledge of the reality of daily life for Cubans in Cuba.
          What he and his type cannot stomach is factual information. The quotes I have given in the contribution he criticizes are factual. But yours was an accurate response and I appreciate it!
          There are those who contribute to these pages, who seek to divert attention away from criticism of the Castro family regime. They invariably do so by dragging in irrelevant “dead cats” about the US and commentary about the previous Cuban dictator Batista. Logic is not within their grasp, but their fury when given facts that they cannot deny, is wonderful to behold.

      • Moses Patterson

        His comments are historically accurate. Rather than resort to name-calling, list one error in his comments.

    • Tom

      Never forget Fidel Castro will be more fondly remembered and has more international honours, recognition and global respect than any US leader has and ever will have, because he had guts to stand up to the rubbish coming out of the States – which most people in the world detest. Castro improved literacy, health care and education. Cubans outlive Americans and are more literate and can see a Doc, so stop all this Castro slagging and get right out of Cuba if you are not a Cuban citizen and please do Cuba a favour we don’t need you.

      • Moses Patterson

        Did you just read the even-numbered pages in the Castro biography? Fidel is also responsible for torturing and imprisoning gays and Catholics. He has stolen millions of dollars in assets from Cubans who didn’t share his political views. He engineered failed interventions in Africa and Latin America. He will be well-remembered for ALL that he has done.

      • Carlyle MacDuff

        The adherents of communism/socialism who support the removal of individual rights and freedoms, totalitarianism and dictatorship will as you indicate fondly remember Fidel Castro Ruz who personifies those evil “qualities”.
        Obviously although he is of the far right, you support the views of US Presidential candidate Donald Trump, for you think that I as a non-Cuban citizen should be removed from Cuba – the policy that the said Donald Trump favours for Latin Americans in the US.
        Such attitudes reek of dictatorial mentalities, you obviously are of that ilk.
        Your final four words indicate that you claim to be a Cuban resident in Cuba. As one whose home is in Cuba, may I enquire how you gain access to the Internet?
        Also, do you support the wish that Fidel Castro expressed in writing to Nikita Kruschev to use nuclear weapons upon the people of the United States?
        Finally, do you hope to be incinerated yourself, rather than the traditional method of disposal of the dead in Cuba?
        I am not going to leave Cuba, I love the country and the people and will continue to support their wish for freedom.

      • Informed Consent

        It is interesting to note that Carlyle stated facts, which you can easily look up. You however stated “opinions”.who is more credible I ask

  • N.J. Marti

    A very good reform. The solution to their brain drain problem is not repression but rather giving these medical professionals a reasonable value proposition for their contributions. The U.S. is unlikely to relent until further normalization progress is made. The key item to resolve are the property claims from the 1950’s. Other differences can be resolved latter, but it is the property claims that is the lynch pin issue. A Cuba bond offering to support a resolution fund backed by tourist revenue is simplest solution. The U.S. thus has an interest in tourism dollars flowing to Cuba. Debt has a way of building mutual interests.

    • Moses Patterson

      Cuban municipal bonds? Hahahahaha!

  • Chuck1938

    Some of our posters have learned nothing during the past years. They blew it during the Bay of Pigs, they failed when they enticed 50% of Cuban Physicians to leave the country for a bunch of silver coins, they were demoralized when they tried make the Cuban people cry “Uncle” through hunger, desolation and death.

    Having ran out of options and ideas, they resorted to their worn-out tactics with their stupid Cuban Medical Professional Parole something, which was concocted by an ultra right wing Cuban American from Miami under the auspices of the US State Department and as Ronald Reagan would say: “Here they go again”.

    Cuba resisted and won when they were left with 3500 physicians and one Medical School. Today there are 80,000 physicians, 22 medical schools and a society that was trained and is prepared to face whatever adversity, no matter where it is coming from.

    Shaming those murderers whose plan deprived the weakest of the weak from the only healthcare providers some had seen in a lifetime, a slow stream of physicians who abandoned their posts, are returning to their people, their responsibility and are recieved with open arms by a grateful community in Cuba.

    If the CMPP front and the US State department was ever concerned with the plight of the uninsured, poor, the third world or the millions of migrants risking their lives and dying attempting to cross the Mediterranean from the hell that their homeland has been turned into by others who decided to restructure the Middle East, or the poor in our inner cities, sugar cane cutters, tomato pickers and fern workers in Florida, California migrants and homeless veterans, each and everyone of these Cuban Physicians could have the decent, well paid and dignified job they were offered to abandon their patients in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Surinam or Pakistan..