Cuba Ratifies Solidarity and Humanistic Vocation of Its Doctors

Havana, Nov 14 (Prensa Latina) Cuba on Wednesday ratified the solidarity and humanistic vocation shown by its health professionals in dozens of countries, and announced the withdrawal from Brazil’s More Doctors Program, in response to conditions set forth by President-elect Jair Bolsonaro.

The peoples of Our Americas and the rest of the world know that they will always be able to count on the humanist and solidarity vocation of our professionals,’ noted Cuba’s Public Health Ministry in a statement.

The institution described the situation as an unfortunate reality, and specified that the decision was communicated to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Brazilian political leaders who founded and defended this initiative.

DECLARATION FROM THE MINISTRY OF PUBLIC HEALTH

The Ministry of Public Health of the Republic of Cuba, committed to the solidarity and humanistic principles that have guided Cuba’s medical cooperation for 55 years, has been participating in the More Doctors for Brazil Program since it started in August 2013.

This initiative, launched by Dilma Rousseff, who was at that moment the president of the Federal Republic of Brazil, pursued the double purpose of guaranteeing medical assistance to the majority of the Brazilian people, following the principle of universal health coverage promoted by the World Health Organization.

The program had planned the inclusion of Brazilian and foreign doctors who would work in poor and remote areas of that country.

Cuba’s participation in this program was arranged through the Pan-American Health Organization with one distinctive feature, as it was intended to fill the vacancies left by doctors from Brazil and other foreign nations.

During these five years of work, around 20,000 Cuban cooperation workers have assisted 113,359,000 patients in more than 3,600 municipalities.

They have managed to provide health coverage to a universe of up to 60 million Brazilians at the moment when they accounted for 80 percent of all the doctors who were taking part in the program. More than 700 municipalities had a doctor for the first time ever.

The work by Cuban doctors in areas of extreme poverty, in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador de Bahia and the 34 Special Indigenous Districts, particularly in Amazonia, was largely recognized by the federal, state and municipal governments of that country and its population, 95 percent of which expressed their acceptance, according to a survey carried out by the Federal University of Minas Gerais at the request of the Ministry of Health of Brazil.

On September 27, 2016, the Ministry of Public Health, in an official statement issued on a day close to the expiration date of the agreement and amid events associated to the legislative and judicial coup d’etat against President Dilma Rousseff, announced that Cuba ‘would continue to honor its agreement with the Pan-American Health Organization for the implementation of the More Doctors Program, provided that the guarantees offered by local authorities were maintained’, something that has been so far respected.

Jair Bolsonaro, president-elect of Brazil, who has made direct, contemptuous and threatening comments against the presence of our doctors, has declared and reiterated that he will modify the terms and conditions of the More Doctors Program, in full disregard of the Pan-American Health Organization and the agreement reached by that organization with Cuba, since he has questioned the qualification of our doctors and has conditioned their permanence in the program on a process of validation of their diplomas, and established that contracts will only be signed on an individual basis.

The announced modifications imposes conditions that are unacceptable and fail to ensure the guarantees that had been previously agreed upon since the beginning of the Program, which were ratified in 2016 after the renegotiation of the Terms of Cooperation between The Pan-American Health Organization and the Ministry of Health of Brazil and the Cooperation Agreement between the Pan-American Health Organization and the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba.

These unacceptable conditions make it impossible to maintain the presence of Cuban professionals in the Program.

Consequently, in light of this unfortunate reality, the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba has decided to discontinue its participation in the More Doctors Program and it has informed so to the Director of the Pan-American Health Organization and the political leaders of Brazil who founded and defended this initiative.

The decision to bring into question the dignity, professionalism and altruism of Cuban cooperation workers who, with the support of their families, are currently rendering their services in 67 countries is unacceptable.

Over the past 55 years, a total of 600,000 internationalist missions have been accomplished in 164 nations, with the participation of 400,000 health workers who, in quite a few casds, have fulfilled this honorable task more than once.

Their feats in the struggle against the Ebola virus in Africa, blindness in Latin America and the Caribbean and cholera in Haiti, as well as the participation of 26 brigades of the ‘Henry Reeve’ International Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disaster Situations and Great Epidemics in Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Venezuela, among other countries, are worthy of praise.

In the overwhelming majority of the missions that have been accomplished, all expenses have been covered by the Cuban government. Likewise, 35,613 health professionals from 138 countries have been trained in Cuba at absolutely no cost as an expression of our solidarity and internationalist vocation.

All Cuban cooperation workers have preserved their posts and their full salary in Cuba, together with all due labor and social benefits, just as the rest of the workers of the National Health System.

The experience of the More Doctors Program for Brazil and Cuba’s participation in it show that it is indeed possible to structure a South-South Cooperation Program under the auspices of the Pan-American Health Organization in order to promote the achievement of its goals in our region.

The United Nations Development Program and the World Health Organization have described it as the main example of good practices in triangular cooperation and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.

The peoples from Our Americas and all over the world know that they will always be able to count on the solidarity and humanistic vocation of our professionals.

The Brazilian people, who turned the More Doctors Program into a social achievement and, from the very beginning, has trusted Cuban doctors, recognized their virtues and appreciated the respect, sensitivity and professionalism with which they have assisted them. They will understand who are to be held responsible for our doctors not being able to continue offering their fraternal contribution in that country.

Havana, November 14, 2018.

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