Portuguese Government Wants To Reinforce Public Health With 300 Doctors From Cuba

The export of professional services, mainly doctors and teachers, is Cuba’s main source of income. (@MINSAPCuba)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, July 5, 2023 — The Portuguese government plans to strengthen the country’s public health system by hiring 300 Cuban doctors, who have already started the necessary procedures, the Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Notícias reported on Wednesday .

According to this medium, the Ministry of Health intends to remedy the shortcomings of the National Health Service (SNS) by hiring three hundred doctors from Cuba, who would work in Portugal for three years.

In addition, the Government, chaired by the socialist António Costa, has already initiated the procedures so that these professionals can be incorporated as soon as possible into the public system, taking into account the various steps that foreigners must go through outside the territory of the European Community before being considered fit.

To receive authorization to practice, doctors arriving from third countries must undergo several tests, not only in medicine, but also in Portuguese, for example.

It is not the first time that Portugal has resorted to Cuban healthcare workers; in 2009 it welcomed 44 to reinforce the public network in the regions of Ribatejo (center), Alentejo and Algarve (south).

When asked by EFE, sources from the Ministry of Health limited themselves to pointing out that the hiring of foreign health professionals is “complementary and transitory” to nationals and its objective is “to contribute to the adequate provision of human resources and response capacity” of the SNS.

In this sense, “joint work is underway between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education.”

According to the data provided, in 2022 the Portuguese public system had 1,270 foreign doctors. Local media reported that the total number of foreign professionals registered with the College of Physicians amounted to 4,503. The news comes on a day in which Portuguese doctors began a two-day strike to demand wage and labor improvements.

Local media reported that the total number of foreign professionals registered with the College of Physicians numbered 4,503.

If an agreement is not reached with the Ministry of Health, the National Federation of Physicians (FNAM), which called for the stoppage, does not rule out another one at the beginning of August. This strike could coincide with World Youth Day, in which Lisbon is expected to welcome one million faithful Catholics from the 1st to the 6th of next month.

Health is one of the sectors that has been the source of the most complaints in the last year, marked by a crisis in emergencies, especially in maternity and obstetrics, due to the lack of resources.

The medical brigades are one of the main sources of foreign currency for the Government of Havana, and have been denounced as forced labor by international organizations such as Human Rights Watch or Prisoners Defenders. The United States also has Cuba on the list of countries that fail to comply with international human rights standards.

They are in addition to the main strategies of the Cuban Government to maintain its presence with its allied countries, such as Mexico , Italy,  Qatar, Brazil, Venezuela ND Nicaragua. Some of the most recent data, collected in the statistical yearbooks published by the National Office of Statistics and Information (Onei), dates from 2021, when 4,349 million dollars were collected for the export of health services abroad .

In contrast, on the island, health services are deteriorating, not only due to a lack of health professionals, but also due to the shortage of basic medicines, which the government in Havana attributes to financing problems and the international supply of raw materials. On the other hand, infrastructure modernization investments are focused on tourist complexes, intended to activate the compromised economy, while complaints about the precarious conditions in hospitals in Cuba are increasingly frequent on social networks.


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