14ymedio, Havana, 23 June 2023 — Abuse, mass exodus and a slave salary. These three elements encrypt the drama that, every day, decreases the number of medical specialists in Cuba. The loss of high-level professionals in all spheres is one of the dimensions of the labor crisis in Cuba, a sector also affected by aging.
Added to this is the little disposition that young people seem to have for the toughest specialties, according to a doctor from the William Soler hospital, in the Havana municipality of Boyeros, speaking to 14ymedio, who prefers not to be identified. “Nobody wants to be a clinician, a pediatrician, and even less a gynecologist. It’s as if they were ’anemic’ professions today,” he laments.
Two months ago, the doctor continues, 12 young pediatric residents began working at Soler. After several weeks, eight of them deserted in one fell swoop. “They couldn’t stand the pressure,” he said. “In another hospital in Havana, they have just closed the intensive care service because, simply, there are no staff.”
Massive abandonment – especially by young graduates – is even more frequent in polyclinics, where many specialists have also had to assume the tasks inherent to general practitioners.
“Soon, as the crisis continues to worsen, gynecological and pediatric hospitals will have to be closed. Pediatricians, dentists and gynecologists are not being trained in the necessary proportions,” he says. However, what is most alarming is the increasingly frequent tendency to place residents who do not have sufficient preparation to assist the surgeon during a procedure in operating rooms – which also function badly.
“It also happens that surgical residents have not received the necessary training and are already working in the operating room. And this is a fraud: how are you going to graduate a clinical surgeon who does not know how to operate!” the doctor says, scandalized.
This newspaper has also known of the case of a young man recently graduated who is in the first year of an obstetrics specialty in Camagüey. He has just requested a license that, he admits, will soon become a leave of absence: he has already bought the tickets to emigrate to Spain with his wife, a Cuban with Spanish nationality whose parents have already left to “prepare the ground.”
“Both obstetrics and gynecology are in crisis,” he says. “Specialists used to be sent in ’normal’ times to oversight duty every three days. Now the conditions are unbearable: the lack of staff means that a specialist sometimes spend 48 to 72 hours without being able to leave the hospital. There is no one to replace you.”
Last February, the AFP agency published a report in which it attributed the labor debacle on the Island to the unstoppable exodus of professionals. The “route of the volcanoes,” which allowed Cubans leaving through Nicaragua to cross Central America to the US border, was a black hole that absorbed a large part of Cuban working people. Despite the restrictive measures taken in 2022 by Washington, the stampede towards the United States has not stopped.
The conclusion of the report was devastating: theoretically, in Cuba there are plenty of jobs, but nobody wants to work in the deplorable conditions established by the regime’s economy. According to the data provided to the international press, the majority of Cuban emigrants are between 19 and 49 years old, in addition to being highly educated.
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