By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The Brazilian Senate approved an executive decree which will extend the federal government’s Programa Mais Médicos (More Doctors Program) another three years. The decree allows the more than seven thousand foreign doctors currently in the country to remain in Brazil for the extension of the program.

Mais Médicos program, More Doctors program, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News, Rodrigo Maia
President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, during the session approving the extension of the Mais Médicos program, photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil.

The program, created by the government of suspended president Dilma Rousseff in 2013, called for an extension of temporary visas for the foreign doctors in the program only after they passed a test to validate their diplomas.

Now the approved decree will allow Brazilian doctors with foreign credentials as well as foreign doctors to work in the country without having their diplomas re-validated by Brazilian authorities. The executive decree for the extension of the program was one of the last orders issued by Rousseff before she was suspended from office.

Although the program has been criticized by some, for bringing dozens of Cuban doctors to Brazil through a cooperation agreement with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Senators like Humberto Costa noted that the program has an ‘enormous social reach’ and is said to be approved by 90 percent of those who use the public health system.

“Today this program is a fundamental part of the lives of millions and millions of Brazilians,” Costa was quoted as saying by Agencia Senado after the vote.

According to the federal government, the program employs more than 18,000 doctors, is present in over 73 percent of all Brazilian municipalities and in 34 indigenous communities and has helped more than 63 million Brazilians.

The decree, which has also been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, will now need to be sanctioned by interim President Michel Temer.

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