Brazil to fill doctor shortage with Cuban imports

The island state has previously sent 30,000 doctors to Venezuela in exchange for cheap oil

Brazil has announced its intention to hire up to 6,000 Cuban doctors to make up for a shortages of medics in the South American nation’s vast countryside.

The plan, which has drawn the ire of Brazilian doctors, is the latest cooperation between the two countries, and follows Cuba sending 30,000 doctors to Venezuela. The government intends for the doctors to work in areas where current provisions are poor or non-existent. Most Brazilians doctors are based in large cities and are reluctant to transfer to Brazil’s underdeveloped north-east and Amazon regions.

Brazil’s Foreign Minister, Antonio Patriota, has revealed negotiations are under way with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to allow the Cuban doctors to practice in Brazil.He told a press conference the plan would strengthen ties between Cuba and Brazil that have expanded since the left-wing Worker’s Party won the country’s presidency a decade ago.

“Cuba is very proficient in the areas of medicine, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology and Brazil is considering receiving Cubans doctors in talks that involve PAHO,” he said.

The announcement follows negotiations that lasted more than year, after Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff visited Havana for talksin 2012.

But Brazilian medical associations have opposed the plan, arguing that the standard of medical training in Cuba is not equivalent to that given to doctors in Brazil. The Federal Medical Council said the proposals were “irresponsible” and “electioneering”.

The plans echo the agreement between Cuba and the late Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela to send 30,000 doctors to serve in poor areas of that country in exchange for cheap oil.

While Brazil’s government is much more centrist than Venezuela’s, the move will be seen as a further attempt to extend its influence in a continent long dominated by the US.

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