Mexico Accelerates Its Import of Cuban Doctors To Reach the ‘Goal’ of 1,200

  • The director of the Mexican Social Security Institute announces the arrival of another 123 health workers after a meeting in Havana with Miguel Díaz-Canel
  • The opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez accuses the Government of “financing a dictatorship”
Miguel Díaz-Canel with Zoé Robledo Aburto, general director of the Mexican Social Security Institute, on Friday in Havana. / Cubadebate

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Mexico City, 13 May 2024 — “Strengthen health cooperation between both countries.” With those words, Mexico defined in a statement the objective of the meeting held in Havana between Zoé Robledo, the director of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), and the Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel.

There is no news in the text, beyond reporting the arrival, in the coming days, of another 123 Cuban doctors specializing in family medicine, who will join the 806 who already work in the public health sector in Mexico (the statement says there are 768). The intention, they insist, is to import up to 1,200 healthcare workers from the Island to Mexico during the remainder of the six-year term.

The island’s health workers will join the IMSS-Bienestar, a system created by the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to serve people without social security, which replaced Seguro Popular, a program with the same purpose.

 Although the meeting took place last Friday in Havana, the IMSS specified days later the number of Cuban specialists, who will join the 806 who already work in the public health sector

“At that meeting, the general director of Social Security indicated that through the agreement between the Governments of Mexico and Cuba, it is intended to expand to 1,200 the number of Cuban doctors who support the IMSS-Wellness medical units located in remote and difficult-to-access areas,” detailed the institute.

The hiring of Cuban doctors in Mexico has sparked criticism from the opposition, including from presidential candidate Xóchitl Gálvez, who just last week promised that her government would not hire those workers.

“Mangos [don’t even believe it] that we are going to continue bringing Cuban doctors to Mexico! In Mexico, there is a surplus of capacity and talent, and the bringing of Cuban doctors has only served to simulate the financing of an authoritarian regime because they don’t even believe that they are paid well,” she explained during the presentation of her health plan last Monday.

Gálvez raised her tone this Sunday and accused the Government of “financing a dictatorship” after new information was revealed.

“This Government is betting on financing a dictatorship, which is the case of Cubans who violate human rights. Not us, we want our Mexican doctors to earn well and have good jobs,” the candidate of the Fuerza y Corazón por México [Force and Heart for Mexico] coalition.

In this context, Gálvez promised to “open more specialty positions for Mexican doctors” and train more specialists, surgeons, cardiologists and pediatricians.

“With regards to health, we are going to open more medical schools in rural areas. We want there to be more doctors, we do not want Cuban doctors, we want Mexican doctors,” she remarked.

The former senator also insisted on reviving Seguro Popular, a program that covered citizens without social security that López Obrador replaced with a system called IMSS Bienestar, which Gálvez considers “a failure.”

“Social policy is a failure, 50 million people do not have social security in terms of health,” she said.

 “Social policy is a failure, 50 million people do not have social security in terms of health,” she said

The Government justifies the hiring of the Cuban doctors because Mexico has 2.4 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, higher than the average of 2 per 1,000 in Latin America, but lower than the average of 3.5 of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).

In addition, the López Obrador Administration has defended Cubans after stating that Mexican doctors do not want to work in rural or marginalized areas, while health personnel have responded that there are areas in which they cannot work due to violence.

“The participation of Cuban doctors in IMSS-Bienestar has added to the work of Mexican doctors to strengthen the First Level of Care by increasing productivity in consultations and the operating room,” the institute’s statement concluded.

Three weeks before the elections, on June 2 Gálvez appears in second place in the polls, below the ruling party’s Claudia Sheinbaum. Some 98 million voters are called to renew more than 20,000 positions, including the Presidency, the 500 deputies and the 128 senators.


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