The first Cuban doctors, of the 1,000 requested by the government of Rafael Correa, will arrive in Ecuado in December, according to a report from Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, reported by AFP.
The decision is supported in a series of agreements signed in Quito during a recent visit by the Cuban Health Minister, Roberto Morales, according to a brief statement published on the official site cubaminrex.cu.
“The new agreements cover the level of primary, epidemiological and physical medicine anticipated, starting this coming December, when the Cuban specialists who will start to arrive in the country will contribute to strengthening the capacity of Ecuador’s Ministry of Health in this area,” said the Foreign Minister.
The request for the doctors was made to Raul Castro by Correa during his visit to Havana on September 21.
The announcement raised concerns in the Ecuadorian medical associations, which was expressed publicly.
“The Cubans coming will cost 30 million dollars, when, for this price, we could hire Ecuadorian doctors and train them in comprehensive care and family medicine,” Alberto Navraez, president of the Ecuador Medical Federation told the local paper Expreso, in September.
In addition to the tens of thousands of doctors and health personnel that Havana maintains in Venezuela, this year 4,000 doctors will be sent to Brazil for the first time.
Although it continues to maintain free medical collaborations with some of the poor countries like Haiti, Raul Castro’s government has medical services in some 60 countries as one of his main sources of hard currency.
The professionals sent to serve the “missions,” receive a fraction of the money charged by Havana.
The export of services, mainly doctors, is the principal activity of the Cuban economy, with some 8 billion dollars annually, second to tourism, with 2.5 billion.
From Diario de Cuba, 20 November 2013