Brazil to Cut Cuban Doctors Program by 35% / 14ymedio

Currently, more than 11,000 Cuban doctors are part of the Brazilian government program 'Mais médicos
Currently, more than 11,000 Cuban doctors are part of the Brazilian government program ‘Mais médicos

14ymedio bigger[CORRECTED] 14ymedio, 21 September 2016 – Brazil is seeking to be self-sufficient in healthcare services. The program Mais Médicos (More Doctors), recently renewed between the governments of Cuba and Brazil, which supplies doctors for Brazil’s most disadvantaged and remote areas, will be progressively reduced, according to Brazil’s Minister of Health Ricardo Barros in an interview this Tuesday.

“We appreciate the availability of the Cubans who help us, but our objective is not to permanently maintain this cooperation,” he said.

The goal is to reduce the participation of Cuban doctors in the program by 35%. Thus, the 11,400 Cuban personnel currently working in Brazil would be reduced to 7,400. In 2017 the ministry intends to offer 2,000 positions to Brazilian professionals, although if the slots are not filled they would continue to contract for Cubans.

Barros said that the program was responding to a transitional policy that intends to meet the needs of the population, but the objective would be to not do this with external contracts. Currently, it is estimated that 62.5% of the professionals in the program are Cubans.

The minister said that from now on wages will be adjusted in line with inflation and in 2017 will rise by 8.9%. The cost to Brazil for each Cuban health care provider is $4,385 US, of which the Cuban government keeps $3,070 and the medical professional is paid $1,315, for a year’s work. The “profit” to the Cuban government, therefore, is just short of 35 million dollars a year. The total cost to Brazil is 49.6 million dollars.

The Cuban government has never made public the figures for the income it earns through the export of doctors in this program, but “defectors” from the program have confirmed that the island’s governments keeps some 70% of the salaries that Brazil pays through the mediation of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).