Image credits: Gobierno de México
News Article

Cuban Doctors Arrive in Mexico to Address Medical Deficit

By Paloma Duran | Tue, 07/26/2022 - 17:28

Yesterday, the first group of Cuban doctors who will be part of a new healthcare program arrived in Nayarit and began working. President López Obrador emphasized that the hiring of foreign doctors is necessary to address the shortage of medical specialists in the country,  an issue that was not solved even though more vacancies were offered to Mexican doctors. Mexican medical professionals have been critical of how these jobs were offered to them, arguing that taking on the work would have posed a risk to their safety.

López Obrador stressed that with the arrival of the first 60 Cuban medical specialists in the country, the Mexican health system is beginning to improve. The president stressed that more doctors will arrive soon, as the Cuban government has agreed to send a further 500 specialists. Moreover, López Obrador emphasized that the government plans to hire even more foreign specialists, if the 500 doctors are insufficient to guarantee the right to healthcare to the Mexican population.

“I made the decision to hire specialists abroad because health has nothing to do with ideology, it is based on human rights. And if they are not enough, we will have to bring them from the US, Russia, Cuba, Japan, France or wherever, and we will distribute them to where we need them most,” said the president.

The Coordinator of hospitals in Nayarit, Roberto Escobar Gutiérrez, announced that the-recently arrived Cuban doctors began operating on July 25. Twelve doctors have been placed in Rosamorada, while the rest were distributed between Acaponeta, Tecuala and Bahía de Banderas, among other municipalities. Escobar emphasized that the arrival of the doctors is paramount for the state, especially because they are specialists in internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, gynecology and anesthesiology.

The hiring of Cuban doctors comes after López Obrador announced that Mexico had a deficit of 50,000 doctors, a problem that is exacerbated in rural areas of the country, as Mexican medical professionals often pursue to work in large cities. He explained that he chose Cubans doctors because they had previously worked in Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several Mexican medical organizations and practitioners stated that López Obrador's initiative victimizes Mexican doctors because they already compete in an oversaturated labor market. Moreover, they argued that Mexico currently has no established standards to measure what its medical needs may be, nor what the number of specialists or their distribution is currently. This makes knowing whether there is a shortage or a surplus of medical practitioners with certainty  impossible, reported MBN.

Due to growing criticism against the president's initiative, new positions for Mexican doctors were announced. However, Minister of Health Jorge Alcocer reported in June that of the 10,920 doctors who signed up for the new medical vacancies offered by the government, 57 percent did not attend their first appointment to deliver documents and get assigned. So far 2,621 specialists have been hired. However, this figure only represents 18 percent of all available employment positions, said Zoe Robledo, Director, the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS).

Mexican doctors have complained that the vacancies offered by the government are for marginalized areas that cannot guarantee their safety. According to the Mexican Association of Doctors in Training (AMIC), 40 percent of doctors who performed their social service in marginalized areas reported that they suffered harassment, rape, kidnapping or verbal aggression in 2021. In addition, at least one doctor has been reported as having been killed every year for the past five years. Experts say that the real numbers are higher, since many victims or relatives do not report violence out of fear for repercussions.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Jornada, Animal Politico, Proceso, MBN
Photo by:   Gobierno de México
Paloma Duran Paloma Duran Journalist and Industry Analyst