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Brazilians Worry over Health Gap Due to Departure of Cuban Doctors

Brazil, Nov 15 (Prensa Latina) Health authorities from small cities in northeastern Brazil fear a health gap might result from the departure of Cuban doctors due to the offensive positions of the future government of far right politian Jair Bolsonaro.
'We will return to a level of eight years ago, there are almost three million people from Bahia who will be left without a doctor,' the Director for Basic Care of the Bahia Health Secretariat, Cristiano Soster, told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

The Cuban Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) announced on Wednesday that it will no longer be part of the Brazilian More Doctors Program, given the conditions exposed by Bolsonaro for the professionals of Cuba.

The institution explained in a release that this decision was communicated to the Pan American Health Organization and to the Brazilian political leaders who founded and defended this initiative that provided health services to the poor population of Brazil.

He added that Bolsonaro, with direct, derogatory and threatening references to the presence of Cuban doctors, has stated and reiterated that he will modify the terms and conditions of the More Doctors Program in disrespect of the Pan American Health Organization and to the agreement with Cuba.

The northeast of Brazil was one of the regions that most used Cuban professionals within the framework of the program.

In Bahia, a total of 846 Cuban doctors distributed among 313 municipalities corresponds to 20 percent of the doctors who work in basic health care.

With the departure of these professionals, medical coverage that is currently 63 percent will fall to 43.

In Pernambuco, half of the 1,000 posts in the program are covered by Cuban professionals who serve a good part of the rural population and small municipalities who, now, will not receive medical attention.

Outside the Northeast, Brazilian health authorities warn, the fear is in the impact with the indigenous populations and in the outskirts of large urban centers, as Cuban doctors are the only ones who are willing to serve the population in troubled areas, such as the favelas (slums).

In its statement, MINSAP recalled that 'in these five years of work, nearly 20,000 Cuban doctors treated 113,359,000 patients in more than 3,600 municipalities, reaching a universe of up to 60 million Brazilians at the time they constituted 80 percent of all doctors participating in the program.'

'More than 700 municipalities had a doctor for the first time in history,' MINSAP says. It adds that 'the work of Cuban doctors in places of extreme poverty, in favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador de Bahia, in the 34 Special Indigenous Districts, especially in the Amazonia, was widely recognized by the federal, state, and municipal governments of that country and its population, which granted 95 percent acceptance, according to a study commissioned by the Ministry of Health of Brazil to the Federal University of Minas Gerais.

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  • Countries: Cuba

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