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Friday, 8 November 2013

Brazil is adding 3,000 Cuban doctors this week to the 2,400 Cuban doctors already in the country since September under the Mais Médicos program, according to this article in The Cuba Standard.
This exceeds the previously announced number by 1,400; more Cuban doctors may be contracted to reach the ambitious goals of the program. Revenues for Cuba at the current level of staffing are estimated at $250 million per year.
In May, the Brazilian government announced it would contract 6,000 Cuban doctors, but it backtracked as local physicians joined a wave of street protests in summer. Then, the Brazilian health ministry and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) announced Aug. 21 to contract 4,000 Cuban doctors as a backbone for a fast-expanding medical program in needy regions of Brazil.
“As long as there are Brazilians without a doctor, we will continue to bring professionals into the program,” Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said in a communiqué Nov. 5. “Mais Médicos is a first step towards a major transformation of healthcare in the country.”
With the arrival of the additional Cuban doctors this week, the program will include 6,600 professionals, the health ministry said, adding that it wants Mais Médicos to grow to nearly 13,000 doctors by March 2014. The health ministry has had a hard time finding enough Brazilian doctors to fill the spots.
Brazil agreed to pay Cuba, via PAHO, $4,000 per doctor each month, of which the doctors will receive a part. The Cuban doctors are contracted collectively through the Cuban government for three-year terms, to fill “vacancies not chosen by Brazilian and foreign professionals” in individual recruitment efforts under Brazil’s Mais Médicos programme, a press release by Brazil’s health ministry said.
The PAHO-Brazil agreement is a major breakthrough for Cuban efforts to diversify its for-pay medical service exports. While service exports a decade ago surpassed tourism as Cuba’s largest hard-currency generator, by far most of the healthcare exports are under agreements with oil-rich Venezuela. More than 20,000 medical personnel from Cuba work in Venezuela, or in third countries under programs funded by Venezuela.
Just weeks after the Brazil agreement, Ecuador announced in September it would contract 1,000 Cuban doctors for $30 million a year. Nov. 15-18, a delegation from Trinidad and Tobago will be in Cuba to negotiate contracting “scores” of Cuban doctors and up to 135 nurses.
 Recently, Cuba has been expanding more limited medical service programs in South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Portugal and Algeria. Norway and Brazil have funded medical relief efforts involving Cuban doctors in Haiti.

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