14ymedio, Ángel Salinas, Mexico, 23 May 2023 — The Government of Mexico updated the number of Cuban specialists who are working in hospitals. According to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, there are 700 health workers who “provide their services for the benefit of the Mexican people,” but he did not offer details about the remote areas in which they are located.
López Obrador proclaimed on Tuesday the strengthening of his Health Plan for Welfare implemented in 2022 with doctors from the Island and the improvement of hospital infrastructure. “An investment in the Health Plan of 389,471,652 dollars destined for the conservation, maintenance and equipment in units (hospitals) of first and second level of care in 14 states of the country,” said the general director of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), Zoé Robledo.
Since February, several groups of health workers from the Island have arrived in Mexico as part of the extension of the agreement with the Comercializadora de Servicios Médicos Cubanos to select another group of 610 people. On May 12, 129 doctors were received by diplomatic authorities.
The Consulate General of Cuba in Mérida (Yucatán) highlighted on its social networks the extraction of a gallbladder carried out on May 20 by Cuban doctors. This is the first surgery of this type in 15 years performed at the Hospital of Xpujil (Campeche). López Obrador affirms that with his health plan “it will be possible to have the necessary doctors 24 hours a day,” but the facts contradict the president’s version.
In that same hospital, meanwhile, since last May 10, a patient has been waiting for a date for a gallbladder surgery. His wife, who gave the name of Ana, tells 14ymedio that he was admitted to the emergency room that day and a few hours later was discharged. “At midnight he got sick again and they took care of him again.” In the morning he asked to be scheduled for surgery, but he was told that “there were many appointments and a surgeon was on vacation.”
In addition, this hospital lacks a laboratory for sampling and for performing ultrasounds. “We have done all that on the outside,” he says. She confirmed that her husband has been treated by Cubans, but she doesn’t know if they are going to operate on him. “The only thing they have told me is that there are no specialized nurses now.”
Last February, the arrival of the first 610 doctors on the Island concluded. The initial agreement is that these doctors would be sent to remote areas, so most Cuban health workers would have as a work base “the Montaña de Guerrero,” one of the most violent points in the country. As of April 26, 43 specialists had arrived in this state, whose main mission was to form “mental health caravans” in the region.
This newspaper obtained information about the lodging, the “a la carte dinners” and the free transportation enjoyed by several of these specialists in the central states of the country, as well as the claims about the lack of capability and professional cards to practice.
In Morelos, the leader of the union of the state Ministry of Health, Gil Magadán Salazar, told 14ymedio that a Cuban anesthesiologist did not even “know how to put in a block.” In addition, the Imss-Bienestar, a program of the Mexican Government in charge of offering health services, sent geriatricians and psychiatrists without having their professional certificate and not the cardiologists, gastroenterologists and pediatricians they require.
There is also discomfort among the doctors and nurses of the IMSS-Bienestar because the Cubans are paid more. According to Fabián Infante Valdez, leader of the National Union of Mexican Nursing, when the reform that took away the Institute of Health for Welfare and passed to the IMSS-Wellness, as a decentralized body, was approved, salaries were reduced by up to 50%.
According to him, where three categories for nurses are established by zone, those classified as type “B” went from earning 620 dollars to 290 per month. The assistants received $657 and now $308. To the graduates, if they earn 931 dollars, they are given $372.
General practitioners received 1,224 dollars a month, now $491, and specialists who received 1,487 dollars now get $647. On the other hand, according to the agreement with the Comercializadora de Servicios Médicos Cubanos, Mexico disburses to Havana for each specialist 2,042 dollars per month and $1,722 for each general practitioner.
The export of medical services continues to be the first source of income for the Island, which on Monday celebrated 60 years of medical collaboration, a practice denounced by international organizations for being a method of “modern slavery.” According to Cuba’s ambassador to Mexico, Marcos Rodríguez Costa, there are 22,000 health collaborators on an internationalist missions in 58 countries.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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