Cuba is negotiating an extension beyond November for some 2,400 doctors in Brazil working under the joint social program "Mais Medicos (More Doctors).
Implemented by the government of suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the program has benefited nearly 63 million poor people.
According to an agreement reached by the Pan American Health Organization and the Brazilian Ministry of Health, the doctors will stay until at least November – after the Olympics in Rio and the country’s municipal elections. The new announcement follows a visit last week by the deputy Minister of Public Health of Cuba, Marcia Cobas Ruiz, who met in Brasilia with health authorities.
However, interim President Michel Temer announced last May that he wants to reduce the number of foreign doctors in the program from 13,000 to 3,000.
Since it was proposed, the social program has been criticized and opposed by pharmaceutical and medical corporations, as well as right wing politicians in the country.
The Caribbean island is the main provider of physicians to the international South-South cooperation program, which is sponsored by the World Health Organization, or WHO. According to official figures more than 11,429 of the 18,000 doctors at Mais Medicos are Cubans.
Cuba is internationally renowned for its medical program and expertise, and has numerous agreements lending medical staff to other nations. In addition, the country regularly sends medical teams to support countries hit by natural disasters or pandemics, as it did with African countries affected by the ebola outbreak.
Temer was vice president under Rousseff and became president after leading an impeachment trial that led to her suspension – a move that Rousseff’s supporters have called a “parliamentary coup.”