• Costa Rica Real Estate

In policy shift, Cuba welcomes back doctors who deserted

September 4, 2015

HAVANA, Cuba – Cuba has decided to allow doctors who deserted while on foreign missions to return home without punishment or loss of position in the state health care system, the government said Friday.

The action comes amid worries of a brain drain of Cuban medical professionals as the Communist-ruled island loosens long-time restrictions on emigration.

Doctors in particular have faced stringent restrictions on travel since the 1960s, and stiff sanctions awaited those who deserted from government-sponsored missions in foreign countries.

Under the new policy announced by the Health Ministry, doctors who deserted while on foreign missions are being welcomed back. They “have the opportunity, if they so desire, to rejoin our National Health System, and will be guaranteed work placement in conditions similar to those they had before,” a ministry statement said.

Likewise, Cuban doctors who have emigrated under a more open policy introduced in 2013 can also return, although with no guarantee of working for the state system. In the past, deserters and emigres alike were barred from visiting the country for periods of five to 10 years, or even for life in some cases.

An estimated 25,000 doctors and a similar number of health professionals currently serve in international missions in 68 countries. But the missions have been plagued by complaints about comparatively low pay and defections.

In recent weeks, about 100 medical deserters turned up in Colombia seeking to travel to the United States under a program adopted in 2006 during the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Although better off than most of the Cuban population, doctors make much less than their Latin American counterparts. But the international missions allow them to make 10 to 20 times their normal salary, which in Cuba averaged 1,600 pesos, or a little more than $50 a month, last year.

Cuba insists it still has one of the highest doctor-patient ratios in the world. The island receives about $10 billion a year for the medical services it provides other countries, mainly Brazil and Venezuela, making it the top source of hard currency revenues.

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

UN names Costa Rica as ‘Champion of the Earth’ for environmental efforts
Climate Change
58 views
Climate Change
58 views

UN names Costa Rica as ‘Champion of the Earth’ for environmental efforts

Alejandro Zúñiga - September 20, 2019

The United Nations has selected Costa Rica as its 2019 Champions of the Earth award for policy leadership, the organization…

NASA honors Hispanic Heritage Month with Tico astronaut
Space Ticos
56 views
Space Ticos
56 views

NASA honors Hispanic Heritage Month with Tico astronaut

Alejandro Zúñiga - September 20, 2019

Franklin Chang Díaz is a Costa Rican physicist who participated in seven Space Shuttle missions. In honor of Hispanic Heritage…

Government of Guatemala warns that the country has become a cocaine producer
Central America
55 views
Central America
55 views

Government of Guatemala warns that the country has become a cocaine producer

AFP and The Tico Times - September 19, 2019

Guatemala has become a cocaine-producing country and is no longer used just for transit and storage, Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart…

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!