"Cuba's abandonment of More Doctors is tragic," says the former minister who implanted it

Former Brazilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilha believes that the abandonment of Cuba by the "Más Médicos" program, which he implemented in 2013 during the administration of former President Dilma Rousseff, will be "tragic" for the South American country and will have a direct impact on the population.

In an interview with Efe, Padilha, who was Minister of Health between 2011 and 2014, during the governments of the leftist Workers' Party (PT), accused Bolsonaro of "destroying" an initiative that allowed primary care in the poorest regions and remote from the country.

"When an elected president destroys an initiative, with no alternative in care, international partners become suspicious," the former minister warned.

Cuba will begin today to repatriate the 8,332 doctors with whom it participates in "Más Médicos" after the criticisms made by Bolsonaro, who will govern from next January 1 in Brazil.

The ultra-rightist declared that the island professionals were working in the country in conditions of "slavery", for remaining separated from their families and receiving only 30% of their salary, since the rest is destined to the Government of that country, which qualifies of "dictatorship".

Padilha affirmed that it is not the Brazilian Government's competence to treat the value that Cuban doctors should receive, since they are professionals who are part of an international mission of the island and, in that sense, must comply with the employer's rules.

"Doctors from international missions in Cuba have permanent employment, social security, the link is different, the remuneration relationship is with the international mission of Cuba," he clarified.

According to the former minister, the arrival of Cuban doctors to Brazil was proposed by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) as an alternative to the resistance of Brazilians to work in the most remote and humble regions of the South American country.

"More than 1,700 municipalities in Brazil only have More Doctors and 75% of the attention of indigenous populations is through Cuban doctors," he said.

After the decision of Havana to abandon the initiative, the Brazilian government opened the registration deadline the day before to replace the Cuban professionals who were active in the South American country and who have already begun packing their bags to return to the island.

Padilha said he hoped that, for the good of the 30 million Brazilians who depend on the "Más Médicos", those places could be designated quickly, although he pointed out that the "historical" of the country shows a different reality.

"The arrival of the international mission of Cuba was the only alternative to fill 11,000 positions that were not occupied by Brazilian doctors," he explained.

The program, created in 2013 with the aim of guaranteeing health care in the most remote and poorest regions, has been at the center of the criticism of the Brazilian Medical Association, which assured that the exit from Cuba has a "revanchist style" and supposes a boycott of Bolsonaro.

In the midst of the Cuban doctors' retreat, the president-elect of Brazil announced this week to the future health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who affirmed that Más Médicos was actually an "agreement between Cuba and the PT."

"I hope that when the minister assumes that he dedicates himself more to other problems, the anti-PT speech does not solve the problem of 30 million Brazilians served by the Más Médicos," said Padilha, referring to Mandetta's statements.

In his opinion, the departure from Cuba places Brazil on the "international stage of uncertainty" and threatens the "interruption of other successful policies" in Brazil, which for years was an important ally of Havana in Latin America.


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