Cuba to Send 4,000 Doctors to Brazil

August 21, 2013 | Print Print |

The contracting of medical services brings the Cuban government one of its largest revenue sources. Foto: Raquel Pérez

HAVANA TIMES —  Some 4,000 Cuban doctors will arrive in Brazil by the end of this year to serve the population of 701 cities facing a shortage of health services, the Brazilian government announced today.

The arrival of the doctors from Cuba was made ??viable by the signing on Wednesday of an agreement between the Brazilian Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), reported dpa news.

The agreement comes after it appeared in July that such an effort to “import” Cuban MDs had failed,  in part because of protests by Brazilian doctors who challenged the qualifications of their Cuban counterparts.

According to the Brazilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilha, the first 400 Cuban doctors will travel to Brazil next weekend to work in cities whose needs have not been addressed in the first phase of the “More Doctors” program, launched by the government.

The second group, consisting of 2,000 physicians, is set to arrive in early October, while the final group will arrive at the end of November.

Cuba-Brazil graphic: ain.cu

Padilha said the government will pay to PAHO an amount equal to the salary offered to the 1,700 Brazilians and foreigners already contracted by “More Doctors” – US $ 4,081 per month. PAHO will then transfer the funds to the government of Cuba.

The minister said he ignores what percentage of the salary will actually be paid to the doctors, who will directly receive financial support for their housing and food expenses from the local administrations where they work.

The agreement, which runs through February 2014, provides for the payment to the PAHO of 511 million reals (US $ 208 million, at current exchange rates).

Cuba’s government pays doctors on the island between 20 and 30 dollars a month. They are forbidden from working outside their state position.


What's your opinion?

  • CUBAQUS

    Faced with an acute need and the promises made by the Brazilian president in response to popular unrest Brazil has had to reconsider and hire Cuban doctors though their qualifications were dubious. Brazil even has a “remedial program” fro doctors trained in Cuba. It appears to be impossible for Brazil to hire sufficient doctors on a voluntary basis from Europe (Spain and Portugal were the recruitment targets) quickly enough. The fact that the PAHO lends itself as an “intermediary” is clearly an attempts to avoid some of the criticism. The fact that the PAHO does get involved in what can only be described as “indentured labor” by people whose basic freedoms are violated by the regime whose survival they have to fund with their labor is scandalous. The absence of 4000 more doctors will also further weaken the medical services to the Cuban people.

    For an interesting take on the plight of Cuban doctors see:

    Yoani Sanchez Award-Winning Cuban Blogger
    Posted: April 1, 2010 01:26 PM
    Fuedal Serfdom: The Fate of Health Professionals in Cuba”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yoani-sanchez/fuedal-serfdom-the-fate-o_b_521920.html

    • Neil

      Surely every employee is ‘indentured labour’? Agencies, for example, are rife in the UK, with multi-millionaire owners taking hugh commissions from millions of workers. At least the Cuban people benefit from this practice.

      • Griffin

        That is a rather weak attempt at moral equivalency. Are UK employees who get jobs through agencies forced to work overseas in remote jungles, not allowed to bring their families with them and kept under the watchful eye of political minders? Are UK workers required to provide political propaganda while they work? Are UK workers forbidden to quit their job? Do the agencies keep 95% of the fee paid by the client, as is the case with Cuba doctors?

        Saying the Cuban people benefit from the practice is an obscene way to describe slavery.

        • Humberto Pedroc

          Do you really think that Cuban physicians in the Amazon will be “under the watchful eye of political minders”? That those “political minders” (perhaps specially trained boas) will be checking whether they provide “political propaganda while they work”? And so on and so on and so on….

          • CUBAQUS

            The Cubans will not be free to travel outside the country. They will not be eligible to stay in Brazil should they want.
            They will be closely monitored by minders from the embassy.

      • CUBAQUS

        “Indentured labor” means one has no freedom to move. It means one is blocked.
        Anyone in the free world can quit their job or emigrate to where he wants.
        Cuban doctors are sanctioned if they refuse “missions”. 90% of the fees received go to the regime.
        Their families aren’t allowed to travel with them and are kept as hostages for their return.
        It isn’t the Cuban people that benefits from their labor. they suffer even more as they have less doctors available. Medical rentals bring in 6 billion dollars a year and Cuban hospitals are crumbling macking verything. The wings for foreigners have everything that the regime claims it can’t get because of the blockade.
        The work of the doctors benefits the regime and its apparatus of repression only. The Cuban people live of remittances.

  • Moses Patterson

    It would be interesting to note what percentage of these Cuban doctors will choose to ‘defect’ and not return to Cuba. Brazil is a large country with a growing economy and it will be easier for a Cuban doctor to disappear among the Brazilian people.

  • Griffin

    What of the Cuban people who have long faced shortages of medical services and supplies? WHen will the government provide the Cuban people with more than propaganda?

  • Griffin

    By comparison, Canada has about 200 physicians per 100,000 population and 790 registered nurses per 100,000 population. Cuba has 590 doctors per 100,000.

    Canada’s per capita GDP is $42,693. Cuba’s per capita GDP $10,200.

    So with one third the population of Canada and only 25% of the per capita GDP, how does Cuba manage to produce almost 3 times the number of doctors? And if they are sending so many of these doctors abroad, how do the Cuban people obtain medical services?

    • Humberto Pedroc

      You rightly state that Cuba has many more physicians per population than any other country. After that you question how can Cuba send physicians abroad without affecting Cuban people medical services. Hint try to connect both statements.

  • Tula Fox

    Brazil has no physician shortage whatsoever. This is a complete lie and the governments facts are phoney. Dilma’s government is finding ways to bring Cuban soldiers and send money to Fidel, because Cuba is struggling and needs aid. Dilma’s popularity has hit bottom rock percentages lately, and through desperate manner she is trying to bring “Electoral Soldiers”. The Cuban doctors are being brought to to boost communist ideas among the poor suffering population and not to heal them. This is a complete breach o sovereignty and as a Brazilian I urge to the Army to take control. This also brings long terms risks to america in general, and I urge Obama to raise a economic blocade to Brasil as well, if Brazil does not withdraw its plan to bring Cuban “social nuclear bombs”.

  • Tula Fox

    Brazil has no physician shortage whatsoever. This is a complete lie and the governments facts are phoney. Dilma’s government is finding ways to bring Cuban soldiers and send money to Fidel, because Cuba is struggling and needs aid. Dilma’s popularity has hit rock bottom percentages lately, and through desperate manners she is trying to bring “Electoral Soldiers”. The Cuban doctors are being brought to to boost communist ideas among the poor suffering population and not to heal them. This is a complete breach o sovereignty and as a Brazilian I urge to the Army to take control. This also brings long terms risks to america in general, and I urge Obama to raise a economic blockade to Brasil as well, if Brazil does not withdraw its plan to bring Cuban “social nuclear bombs”.

    • Humberto Pedroc

      Probably YOU have no physician shortage whatsoever! Many brazilians have. The rest of your note is not worth answering.

  • CUBAQUS

    Even the Brazilian trade union for medical personnel (Fenam) has declared the contract with Cuba amounts to slave labor for the Cuban doctors. They will file a complaint with the ILO.

    See:
    ‘Los contratos de los médicos cubanos tienen características de trabajo esclavo’, dice un sindicato brasileño
    AGENCIAS | Río de Janeiro | 22 Ago 2013 – 6:03 pm
    http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1377187436_4747.html

  • CUBAQUS

    An interesting detail I found: in 2005 63 Cuban doctors that had been working in Brazil since 1997 had to leave after a court decided they could not practice medicine in Brazil without having their medical degrees endorsed.

    That is still the problem. Cuban doctors in Brazil have to go trough remedial courses to get up to the required level. Many fail. All Cuban doctors could require extra training before ever exercising.

    “Médicos cubanos abandonan Brasil por fallo judicial”

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaVerdad/message/15033

    “Médicos cubanos desaprueban en masa exámenes de revalidación en Brasil”
    Detalles Publicado el Martes, 25 Octubre 2011 15:09 Por Cafe Fuerte
    http://cafefuerte.com/cuba/noticias-de-cuba/sociedad/1285-medicos-cubanos-desaprueban-en-masa-examenes-de-revalidacion-en-brasil

  • Humberto Pedroc

    1. Doctors task is to achieve health
    2. Cuba has better health rates than the rest of LatinAmerica,
    3. There is a physicians shortage in some areas in Brazil.
    4. Cuba has more physicians per population than any other country in the world.
    5. Cuba may send 4000 physicians to Brazil and still be the country with more physicians per population in the world.
    6. People have many rights in Cuba, including free health, but salaries are comparatively small.
    7. Cuban physicians – whose medical education costed them not one cent – receive a substantial part of the money paid by other governments for their work in these sort of contract. It represents much more than their standard salary.

    8. It is a win-win-win agreement that Cuban physicians go to work in Brazil.
    Sorry for the few greedy brazilian doctors and for the anti-Cuba fundamentalists who will suffer!