Home Latin America Brazil replaces leaving Cuban doctors – health ministry

Brazil replaces leaving Cuban doctors – health ministry


Brazil's health ministry says it has filled almost all of the vacancies left by thousands of Cuban doctors who returned to their home country.

Cuba pulled the doctors out of Brazil after what it called "contemptuous" remarks by president-elect Jair Bolsonaro.

The far-right leader had questioned the doctors' qualifications.

He accused Cuba's communist government of keeping 75% of their pay, and of not allowing their families to join them.

The first group of Cuban doctors to leave was greeted in Havana by the country's deputy health minister on Friday.

The health ministry said in a statement that it had managed to fill 92% of the resulting vacancies with Brazilian doctors.

The statement said more than 17,500 doctors had already been signed up, while almost 8,000 had been allocated to specific areas.

But a large proportion of the Cuban doctors worked in poor, rural parts of Brazil, where it was harder to recruit Brazilian doctors, and it is not clear how many of the new recruits will be prepared to go to those areas.

Why were so many Cuban doctors in Brazil?

Healthcare is Cuba's most lucrative export. The "More Doctors" aid programme operates in 67 countries, and makes the island $11bn a year.

Around 8,000 Cuban doctors have been working in Brazil's remotest areas under the scheme.

Cuba has said they will all be summoned home by the end of December. However, a Brazilian diplomatic source told AFP that 2,000 will likely stay put due to personal ties.

Brazilian mayors have warned that up to 30 million people are facing a care crisis – many in areas where local doctors refuse to go.

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