EFE (via 14ymedio), Sao Paulo, July 5, 2023 — Some 36% of those enrolled in the Mais Medicos (More Doctors) program, one of the hallmarks of the Brazilian Government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, are professionals trained in Bolivia, Paraguay and Cuba, according to data sent by the Ministry of Health to EFE. In the last call of the program, 58% of the just over 34,000 enrolled were nationals trained in Brazil, with priority in access, while the rest, 42%, were foreigners or Brazilians educated outside the country.
Of those trained outside, 14% of the total number of registrants (4,846 professionals) trained in Bolivia; 13% (4,294), in Paraguay; and 9.5% (3,235), in Cuba, followed by Argentina and Venezuela, with much lower numbers.
Lula’s Government, aware of the criticisms made of the program in the past, has tried to increase the representation of Brazilians with a variety of incentives, such as salary supplements and educational opportunities.
The high percentage of doctors trained abroad has been one of the most controversial points of the program since it was launched in 2013 during Dilma Rousseff’s mandate (2011-2016) to solve the deficit of health personnel in remote regions such as the Amazon.
According to the current law, approved by Congress at the end of June, doctors who practice abroad and sign up for the program can work in Brazil without having to undergo a knowledge test for the first four years.
The Federal Council of Medicine, which regulates the profession, said in June about those trained outside that it is “against their right to exercise the profession in the country without first proving their preparation.”
In addition, the Brazilian right has denounced for years that part of the salary paid to Cuban doctors, who until 2018 formed a majority of those enrolled in the program, was diverted to the Government of the Island.
In fact, former President Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022) threatened to expel them, which led the Cuban government to end its official participation in the program and caused vast areas of the country to be left without medical attention.
Many Cuban doctors, however, decided to stay in Brazil, even without being able to dedicate themselves to the profession, and now they have the possibility of signing up for the program again.
The number of people enrolled in the latest edition of Más Médicos has broken records, according to the Government, and is well above the open vacancies, almost 6,000, a sixth of them destined for the Amazon region.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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