Cuban Doctors to Treat Patients in Brazil for 3 More Years

Cuban doctor Elza Vega Rodriguez inspects a pregnant patient at the Health Center in the city of Piaus in the state of Bahia, north-eastern Brazil Nov. 20, 2013.

Brazil is extending for a further three years its “More Doctors” program (Programa Mais Médicos), which has brought thousands of foreign doctors—mostly Cubans—to a country in dire need of medical professionals, a government spokesperson said Friday.

The program, which aims to bring in more than 15,000 doctors a year to fill staff shortages in the country’s publically funded health system, imports medical professionals from abroad with the bulk coming from Cuba.

According to Brazil’s former health minister, Arthur Chioro, Cuban doctors now work in more than 70 percent of Brazil’s cities, and many of the countries remote communities.

Brazil has around 1.9 doctors per thousand people, according to World Bank figures in what’s one of the lowest doctor to population ratios in the world. Comparatively, Cuba has around 6.7 doctors per thousand people, the world’s highest number of doctors per capita.

The program was started by the Brazilian government to boost the number of doctors working in remote areas of the country where qualified native doctors hesitate to venture.

Initiatives similar to the “More Doctors” program in Brazil have been implemented by Ecuador and Venezuela who have begun importing medical professionals from abroad and, like Brazil, most of their foreign doctors hail from Cuba.


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