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The Brazilian government will evaluate the number of doctors needed under the Mais Médicos program in March, President Dilma Rousseff announced during a visit of a Cuban-staffed hospital near São Paulo on Friday.

“If necessary,” the number of foreign doctors hired under the program started in September may be increased again, Rousseff said; Brazilian officials have said they hoped to double Mais Médicos from currently 6,500 to 13,000 doctors. The program, aiming at improving health services in under-served rural and poor urban areas, is eminently popular and has helped boost Rousseff’s political standing, after massive street protests swept the country in summer.

During her participation in the opening of the José Alencar hospital in São Bernardo do Campos, Rousseff was accompanied by her popular predecessor Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva and Health Minister Alexandre Padilha.

Five thousand four hundred of the currently 6,500 foreign doctors in the program are contracted under an agreement between Brazil, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Cuban government. Brazil has been struggling to find enough Brazilian doctors and foreign doctors contracted on an individual base.

As Brazil pays $4,000 per doctor each month, revenues for Cuba at the current staffing level are estimated at $250 million per year.

In November, Brazil added 3,000 Cuban doctors to the 2,400 Cuban doctors already in the country since September. The current total of 5,400 exceeds the previously announced number by 1,400. Even so, this still is below the 6,000 announced by the Brazilian government in May this year. The summer demonstrations included Brazilian doctors protesting the contracting of foreign doctors, apparently causing the government to backtrack temporarily. On Aug. 21, the Brazilian health ministry and PAHO announced Aug. 21 to contract 4,000 Cuban doctors as a backbone for the fast-expanding medical program in needy regions of Brazil.

Source: Cuba Standard

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