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News > Brazil

Over 1,000 Physicians Give Up Bolsonaro's 'More Doctors Program'

  • A Cuban doctor says goodbye to her patients at the Kubitschek Airport in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 22, 2018.

    A Cuban doctor says goodbye to her patients at the Kubitschek Airport in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 22, 2018. | Photo: EFE

Published 4 April 2019

The Brazilian government's plan failed to repair damages caused by previous policies which led to the departure of Cuban doctors from the country.

About 15 percent of the Brazilian doctors who entered President Jair Bolsonaro's program More Doctors Program (MDP), set up he ended the Cuban doctors' program, gave up in the first three months, Folha de Sao Paulo reported Thursday.

Brazil: Bolsonaro Ready to Terminate the 'More Doctors' Program

According to the local media, at least 1,052 out of 7,120 Brazilian doctors, who took over between December 2018 and January 2019, have already left the position. In addition, 1,397 more Brazilian doctors, all of whom were trained abroad and started activities last week, are expected to leave.

The Brazilian physicians’ average stay ranges from one week to three months. The main reasons for quitting are their desire to work in better places, receive specialized training and attend medical residency.

Although this dropout situation was already expected, the resignation rate worries health authorities because there is no date planned for replacing these vacancies, which is leaving health facilities without professionals.

"We are already hopeless," Maria Dalva dos Santos, Health Secretary in Embu-Guacu, a municipality at the Sao Paulo Metropolitan Region, told to Folha and detailed that eight MDP places, which were previously occupied by Cuban professionals, “have no physician now... one of the vacancies was assigned to a doctor who came to work only one day and did not show up again."

The Brazilian Health Ministry data also showed that 31 percent of the MDP resignations happened in cities which have 20 percent or more people living in extreme poverty. They are followed by capital cities and metropolitan regions, which account for 20 percent of the dropouts.

"In smaller cities, resignations may be more related to working conditions and life quality... however, in larger cities, [resignation rates] are related to the labor market," Mario Scheffer, a professor at the Sao Paulo University’s Medical School told Folha and explained that "what used to guarantee permanency was the special features of the contracts applied to the Cuban doctors, who were banned from practicing medicine outside the More Doctors Program."

"Bolsonaro is inhuman and incompetent", Erika Kokay, a Worker’s Party congresswoman says regarding the resignations at the More Doctors Program.

These spatial imbalances in the provision of public health services were timely alerted by multiple voices, who warned about Bolsonaro's abandonment of the poor.

In Nov. 2018, Brazil's former Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said the departure of Cuban doctors would be "tragic" and would have a "direct impact on the population welfare." 

"How sad this county is," Fatos do Dia, an independent Brazilian channel, said Thursday and called Bolsonaro's approach to health an "adventurous policy."

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