14ymedio/EFE, Mexico, 12 September 2023 — The Government of Mexico will extend for another year the agreement with Cuba to hire specialists from the Island. The director of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), Zoé Robledo, insisted this Tuesday that it is to cover the staff deficit in public health.
In the same appearance, at the usual morning press conference of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Robledo reported on the visit of Tania Margarita Cruz, deputy minister of the Ministry of Health of Cuba and Yamila de Armas Águila, president of Cuban Medical Services. She announced that the agreement signed by López Obrador on his trip to Havana in May 2022 will be extended by one year.
“We are going to continue the collaboration with the Government of Cuba, so that mission in our country will be extended for one more year, and its scope may be expanded,” said Robledo.
The Mexican government paid Cuba $9,667,115 between July 2022 and May of this year for a contingent of 718 doctors, according to a source from the Ministry of Health who asked 14ymedio for anonymity. The payment was initially established under the name of the Cuban Medical Services Marketer (CMSC), but from September it was redirected to the company Neuronic Mexicana, a subsidiary of Neuronic S.A. Cuba.
Since 2018, according to the official, Neuronic Mexicana has been a representative of the products and services of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry of the Island, under the presidency of the Cuban Tania Guerra.
Since the agreement began, on May 8, 2022, Mexico has hired 806 Cubans from 36 specialties, according to the head of the Instituto Mexicano de Segura Social (IMSS) on Monday. The health workers are distributed in Baja California (51), Campeche (51), Chiapas (2), Colima (86), Guerrero (52), Michoacán (71), Hidalgo (39), Nayarit (109), Oaxaca (68), Quintana Roo (31), Sonora (60), Tamaulipas (15), Tlaxcala (105), Veracruz (25), Yucatán (3) and Zacatecas (28).
According to the IMSS director, thanks to the support of Cuban doctors, 665,194 consultations, 42,600 ultrasounds, 38,600 dialysis sessions, 23,492 surgeries, 3,212 studies, 1,983 deliveries, 891 cesarean sections, and 592 endoscopies have been performed.
“They are really complex specialties, now present in 16 states of our country. Many hospitals had never had a specialist doctor before,” the official said.
Mexico has 2.4 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, more than the average of 2 per 1,000 inhabitants of Latin America and the Caribbean, but less than the average of 3.5 of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).
The Government of Mexico has defended the hiring of Cubans by accusing Mexican doctors of not wanting to work in rural areas, while health personnel have responded that there are areas in which they cannot work due to violence.
The opposition has also argued that the agreement is a rapprochement of López Obrador with the authoritarian government of the president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel. Without referring to the controversy, Robledo said that “it has been an extraordinary experience. Cuban doctors are saving the lives of Mexicans.”
Robledo did not address the withdrawal in April of this year of 18 Cuban physicians in the state of Morelos because they did not have a professional card. The specialists were in hospitals in Axochiapan, Ocuituco, Tetecala and Temixco. 14ymedio received the complaint of the leader of the union of the Ministry of Health, Gil Magadán Salazar, who reported that “one said he was an anesthesiologist, but he did not know how to insert the anaesthesia. We have a dermatologist who has not given a consultation, and the others seem to be gerontologists, areas that we do not require.”
Robledo also did not mention the privileges granted to the Cubans in some states such as Michoacán, where they are guaranteed accommodation in a double room and free food that includes “breakfast and buffet, while dinner will be à la carte,” while Mexican doctors are offered salaries below those of the Cubans.
For his part, the Mexican Secretary of Health, Jorge Alcocer Varela, announced that as part of the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 during the 2023-2024 winter season, the Cuban Abdala vaccine will be applied, of which they have 5,386,200 doses under protection in the warehouses of the Birmex company, and the Russian vaccine Sputnik, of which they will receive more than 4,000,000 doses.
Alcocer Varela specified that the acquisition of another 10,112,693 more doses will be necessary, but he did not specify whether they will be Abdala or Sputnik. “The critical delivery route will be for the second half of October of the doses already indicated. Cofepris, which imports the vaccines, is already authorizing them for emergency use in a population aged 5 years and older, and the transfer of the vaccine will be carried out through Birmex Laboratories,” he said.
He also reported that “there is good news” about the Mexican vaccine Patria, which may be included among the options for the winter vaccination campaign, but without giving details.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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