14ymedio, Havana, June 14, 2020 — A dozen Mexican medical associations have signed a letter to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stating their “profound disapproval and vigorous protest” about the arrival of Cuban doctors contracted to tackle COVID-19. It’s “serious misconduct toward health professionals,” they say.
The missive, to which 14ymedio had access, recognizes that in the framework of the pandemic, Mexico is legally permitted to contract professional health personnel trained in foreign countries exclusively for the duration of the health emergency. After authorization, the Mexican Government contracted with Cuba for 585 doctors and nurses, for a sum of 6.2 million dollars.
“The group of foreign doctors is composed mainly of general practitioners without a specialty, and they are placed in different hospitals or used only for consultations, infringing on the ability of the assigned hospitals to function,” warns the letter. In Mexico, all general practitioners and specialists have “documents and appropriate certifications,” a regulation that the signatories point out will be violated by permitting “medical staff without this certification to practice” inside the country.
“The colleges, associations and federations of specialists who have signed below, like other doctors in the country, hereby express our profound disapproval and vigorously protest against what we consider to be serious misconduct toward health professionals in Mexico,” they stress.
The doctors point out that “in this country there are doctors whose performance is endorsed by the universities of the Mexican Republic, trained fully in the needs and nature of the population.” Now they feel relegated, because the Government has “favored foreign doctors, disregarding the academic excellence of our universities”.
“It’s an injustice to prefer foreigners over Mexican doctors, who meet all the requirements established by the Law of Professions and the General Law of Health,” adds the text.
The doctors go one step further and say “It’s also a reason for indignation that they commit limited monetary resources and deliver fees to foreign personnel unfairly, paying them a salary higher than the one received by Mexican specialists in health-sector institutions.”
Recently, Diario de Cuba revealed that, on average, Mexican authorities and the Institute of Health for Wellbeing (Insabi) have paid Havana 10,693 dollars for each Cuban health worker that was contracted to deal with the virus.
The Mexican doctors say they require economic help “urgently, in order to fight the pandemic, such as quality personal protection equipment.”
The medical profession says that the agreement between its Government and Havana “is to the detriment of professionals” as these foreign doctors don’t have the necessary competence, don’t have properly specified duties, don’t possess the requirements established by current law, and aren’t endorsed by professional schools.
The text concludes by saying that the intervention of Cuban health workers “provides no benefit to our population and is seriously unfair to the doctors of our country.”
“These are difficult times and we must join forces. We’re sure that Mexicans, supported by their doctors, nurses, and all health workers, will go forward and come out stronger as a nation,” concludes the letter.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, brigades of Cuban doctors and nurses have left the Island for more than 20 countries, adding up to some 2,000 health workers. According to figures from April 30, provided by the Foreign Relations Ministry of Cuba, dozens of them have been sent to Caribbean countries like Dominica, Barbados, Granada, Surinam, or Belize.
According to Cuba’s official data, exportation of professional services, almost all in the health sector, occupies first place in the balance of payments of the Island, coming before remittances from exiles and tourism. In the epoch of bonanza in Venezuela, income was more than 10 billion dollars. However, the last data available indicate that, in 2018, remunerations were depleted and were set at 6.5 billion dollars.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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