SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil‘s Health Ministry said Friday that it will soon start selecting local doctors to replace the more than 8,000 Cuban physicians working in areas where medical services are scarce.
Cuba announced this week it is recalling the physicians in the “More Doctors” program after Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro set conditions unacceptable to the island‘s government. He said the program could continue only if doctors get their full pay directly rather from the Cuban government and are able to bring their families with them. The doctors generally receive a fraction of the salary paid to the Cuban government.
The ministry said it will start this month “to select professionals for the 8,332 positions that will be abandoned by the Cuban doctors.”
The government launched the More Doctors program in 2013 because local doctors could not be found for many positions.
Earlier this week, former Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said Cuban doctors were in 2,800 cities and towns — and they were the only doctors in 1,700 of those towns. He said the pullout of Cuban physicians “will have an immediate and terrible impact on the health care system.”
Bolsonaro told reporters on Friday that the Cuban doctors should be required to prove the quality of their training by getting their diplomas validated in Brazil.
“I never heard of a Brazilian authority being treated by Cuban doctor,” the president-elect said. “Must only the poor be treated by professionals whose qualifications are not guaranteed? This is unjust. It is inhuman.”