Brazilian medical council condemns plan to bring in 6,000 Cuban doctors

May 7, 2013


Brazilian medical council condemns plan to bring in 6,000 Cuban doctors
Government’s attempt to source doctors for remote north-eastern regions is irresponsible, says Federal Council of Medicine


Brazil plans to hire 6,000 Cuban doctors to serve in remote parts of the country where medical services are deficient or nonexistent, despite controversy over the quality of their training.

The Brazilian foreign minister, Antonio Patriota, said negotiations were under way involving the Washington-based Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to allow the Cuban doctors to practice in Brazil.

Brazilian medical associations have opposed Cuban-trained doctors practicing in their country, arguing that standards at Cuba’s medical schools are lower than in Brazil and equivalent in some cases to a nursing education.

Over the past decade Cuba’s communist government has sent 30,000 doctors to work in poor neighbourhoods of Venezuela, Havana’s closest political ally in Latin America, under an agreement reached with the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez that involved an exchange of medical services for cheap oil.

The Cubans are expected to be sent to poor corners of the northeast of Brazil and the Amazon jungle, where Brazilian doctors are reluctant to serve.

“Cuba is very proficient in the areas of medicine, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology and Brazil is considering receiving Cuban doctors in talks that involve PAHO,” Patriota said at a news conference with the Cuban foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez.

The Federal Council of Medicine, a body that represents doctors in Brazil, said the proposal was “irresponsible” as the Cuban doctors’ “technical and ethical quality was in doubt”. It issued a statement demanding foreign doctors be recertified in Brazil before being allowed to practice.

Patriota said the plan would strengthen ties between Havana and Brasília that have expanded since the leftist Worker’s party came to power a decade ago.

He said Brazil would pay for the modernisation of five airports in Cuba, where Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht is already building a container terminal at the port of Mariel.

On Monday, Brazil’s trade minister Fernando Pimentel signed an agreement in Havana setting conditions for a $176m (£113m) loan from its giant development bank BNDES to upgrade and expand the airports of Havana, Santa Clara, Holguín, Cayo Coco and Cayo Largo.
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