14ymedio, Havana, 9 May 2022 — The Government of Mexico announced this Monday the contracting of more than 500 Cuban doctors and the acquisition of covid-19 vaccines targeted to children two years of age and older.
According to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in his daily press conference, these actions are part of the health agreements reached with his counterpart, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, during his visit to the island.
López Obrador said that Mexico has a “deficit of specialists” and there are health workers who do not want to move to remote areas, so Cuban pediatricians will have “the Mountain of Guerrero” as their base of work, one of the most contentious points in the country, not not only because it is the poorest area – with rates similar to those of deep Africa – but also because of the presence of several cartels that dispute the movement of drugs, which make it a permanent source of insecurity, as well as other problems, such as the sale of girls in marriage in some indigenous communities.
In addition, he announced the acquisition of doses of Cuban vaccines against covid that still do not have the endorsement of the World Health Organization (WHO), targeted to children.
When asked about which of the vaccines it would be, he replied: “Abdala, I think that’s the name.” On the Island, a combination of Soberana 02 and Soberana Plus was applied for pediatric patients two years of age and older.
Regarding the possible problems that this aid to Cuba could cause in Mexico’s relations with the United States, López Obrador assured that he has not received “any complaint”: “Whenever I speak with President (Joe) Biden, the issue comes up that it is a relationship between equals and that they are respectful of the sovereignty of Mexico.”
The statements of the Mexican president did not take long to raise negative reactions. “It is an agreement that does not benefit Mexico at all and it is going to cost us, from money from the treasury, to health (if not lives),” the consultant for health issues Xavier Tello said on his social networks. “General practitioners going to do residencies in Cuba. This was already proposed (imposed) since last year and it was a failure,” said Tello, referring to the fiasco of Conacyt scholarships to study on the island.
“This true absurdity is just a way to validate the human trade and slavery that the dictatorship promotes, with the island’s doctors,” said the specialist.
“Politics continues to make Mexico’s health sick,” the internist, infectologist and 2020 National Health Award winner Francisco Moreno Sánchez posted on his Twitter account. “Health problems cannot be solved by contracting for 500 Cuban doctors.”
Laurie Ann Ximénez-Fyvie, a researcher in microbiology, described as “incredible” the decision of the Government of Mexico, just a few days after the Health Institute for Well-being (Insabi) was singled out for forcing doctors to resign who had a contract with another dependency, when this is not stipulated in the law.
The hiring of doctors from the Island has been marked by opacity and controversy. In 2020, brigades were sent, according to the Mexican authorities, in support of the coronavirus pandemic. Schools and public opinion questioned them for not being prepared to face the health emergency, and doing little work, and the fact that their presence cost almost eight million dollars. This Saturday, the Cuban official press itself gave the exact number of doctors it sent to Mexico for that contingency, between 2020 and 2021: 1,479.
To contract for 585 of them, “without title,” as reported in September 2021 by the opposition National Action Party (PAN) Mexico and Cuba “orchestrated a fraud” of 255,873,177 million pesos (about 12,692,940 million dollars) to the detriment of the Mexican health budget.
The coordinator of the PAN in the Senate, Julen Rementería, published documents obtained through the transparency portal specified that for each Cuban health worker Mexico disbursed about 21,700 dollars, while a Mexican doctor earns about 843 dollars at the Mexican Social Security Institute.
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