By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANIERO, BRAZIL – The Ministry of Health in Brazil reported yesterday (November 25th) that 96.6 percent of the doctor positions left open in the Mais Médicos (More Doctors) program have been filled. This follows the announcement two weeks ago by Cuba that it will not continue in the program and would recall their healthcare professionals.

Cuba, Healthcare, Mais Médicos, Brasil, Politics, Brazil News, Rio De Janeiro
Cuban healthcare professionals who worked in the Mais Médicos program left from the International Airport of Brasilia towards Havana, photo by Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil.

The reason given for the recall was a reaction to the new requirements announced by President-elect Jair Bolsonaro for Cuban professionals. Cuban officials said the incoming administration’s conditions were derogatory and questioned the preparation of Cuban doctors.

This exodus raised alarms as according to the ministry, 8,332 positions are occupied by these professionals, almost 46 percent of the 18,240 doctors in the Most Medical program.  According to a government news agency, at least 285 cities and 36 Special Indigenous Sanitary Districts (Six) were without doctors in prevention teams with the exit of Cuban professionals.

The survey was carried out by the National Council of Municipal Health Secretariats (Conasems). The entity believes, however, that with the new announcement issued by the Ministry of Health, the replacement will be fast and there will be no great harm to the population.

According to the ministry yesterday, 96.6 percent of the doctor positions have been filled and the replacement doctor registrations will continue through to December 7th. Then the assignment of the professionals to the municipalities should occur immediately until December 14th.

President-elect Bolsonaro spoke about the departure of doctors on Saturday (November 24th), explaining that the Temer government is making a selection to hire new doctors to fill vacancies left by Cubans, and that there are enough professionals to fill the vacancies.

“We can not leave people in Brazil in a regime of semi-slavery, completely in violation of federal law,” said Bolsonaro. “Anyone from outside who works here has to be submitted to the same laws of yours that are here.”

Adding, “You can not confiscate wages, you can not alienate families. We have many Cubans who have families there in Cuba and have already set up new families here. This project [Doctors] destroyed families and we can not admit it.”

Mais Médicos, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The Mais Médicos program was created in 2013 by the Rousseff Administration to extend primary care assistance in areas with shortage of medical professionals, photo by Elza Fiuza/ABr.

As of 5PM yesterday, the ministry reports that there were 29,780 registered with the Regional Medical Council (CRM) in Brazil, of which 20,767 were accepted and 8,230 professionals are already allocated to the municipality for immediate work.

The Mais Médicos program was created in 2013 by the Rousseff Administration to extend primary care assistance in areas with shortage of medical professionals.  The program is present in more than 4,000 municipalities and 34 indigenous territories, and provides assistance to approximately 63 million Brazilians, according to the ministry.

On the November 14th the Cuban’s Public Health Ministry decided to close the agreement with Brazil that made it possible for professionals to work at Mais Médicos, celebrated through the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) with the Ministry of Health.

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