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.