Wednesday February 26, 2020
Home Lead Story Brazillians a...

Brazillians at a Disadvantage Due To Loss Of Cuban Doctors

The former health minister said the doctors were not only highly qualified, but specialists in rural medicine, something that Brazil's health system badly lacks.

0
//
Brazil, cuban doctors
Foreign physicians — mainly Cuban — arrive at the University of Brasilia for a meeting with the Brazilian Health Minister, in Brasilia on Aug. 26, 2013. The Brazilian government hired thousands of foreign doctors due to the lack of medical professionals. VOA

Millions of Brazilians may be left without access to doctors due to the end of a program that brought Cuban physicians to rural and dangerous areas in Brazil, the former health minister who helped create the initiative said Thursday.

The Cuban government on Wednesday said it would end the program after Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro said it could only continue if several conditions were met

Bolsonaro, a former army captain, campaigned in part on promises to take a hard line against left-leaning governments. As a congressman, the far-right leader often complained about the Cuban doctors’ program and tried to end it.

In a phone interview, former Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said the decision to pull out would leave millions of Brazilians without access to doctors.

Padilha said Cuban doctors were in 2,800 cities and towns — and they were the only doctors in 1,700 of those towns. Padilha said the initiative was launched in 2013 because local doctors could not be found for many positions.

Brazil, cuban doctors
Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro talks to the media, in Brasilia, Brazil. VOA

“This will have an immediate and terrible impact on the health care system,” said Padilha. “Cuban doctors are in the most vulnerable areas. They are in the Amazon, rural towns and in slums.”

Brazil, which includes the largest portion of the Amazon basin, is a vast country, a little bit larger than the continental United States. Many areas, particularly in the Amazon and historically poor Northeast region, are sparsely populated and lacking basic infrastructure.

After Cuba’s announcement Wednesday, Bolsonaro made a blistering critique of the program. Frequently referring to the Cuban government as a “dictatorship,” he said the program was “slave work” because the Cuban government keeps 70 percent of doctors’ salaries. He also said Brazil had no way to verify if the doctors were truly qualified.

Neither Bolsonaro nor the Cuban government has said when the estimated 8,500 Cuban doctors currently in Brazil would be leaving. Bolsonaro said Cuban doctors who asked for asylum would get it, though he stopped short of saying Brazil would provide that to any Cuban who asked.

Brazil, Cuban doctors
In this Aug. 30, 2013 file photo, Cuban doctors observe a dental procedure during a a training session at a health clinic in Brasilia, Brazil. VOA

Bolsonaro, who takes office Jan. 1, said he had signaled the program could only continue if doctors directly received their salaries from Brazil, were able to bring their families during their assignments and had their credentials verified.

“We have no proof that they are really doctors and able to take on these functions,” Bolsonaro said.

Padilha said the program, passed by Congress, already includes an evaluation of the doctors’ credentials and language training; Brazil’s national language is Portuguese and Cuba’s is Spanish.

Also Read: Spix’s Macaw Parrot from Brazil Is Now Extinct

The former health minister said the doctors were not only highly qualified, but specialists in rural medicine, something that Brazil’s health system badly lacks. He said the salary structure was something the Cuban government had worked out with more than 60 countries that participate in the program, and not something specific to Brazil.

“Bolsonaro doesn’t understand that a doctor doesn’t just practice medicine for money,” said Padilha. “Doctors who work in the poorest areas are not just thinking about money.” (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s Why Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain are Rising

Number of people with chronic non-cancer pain prescribed an opioid medicine increase

0
Opioids
The number of people with chronic non-cancer pain prescribed opioids increased in the last two-and-a-half decades. Pixabay

The number of people with chronic non-cancer pain prescribed an opioids worldwide increased in the last two-and-a-half decades, say health researchers.

Chronic pain unrelated to cancer includes conditions such as chronic lower back pain, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The research, published in the Journal of Internal Medicin, spanned eight countries and evaluated 42 published studies that included 5,059,098 people with chronic pain conditions (other than cancer). Two-thirds of the studies were from the US; one study was from Australia and the other studies were from the United Kingdom, Norway, India, Spain, Denmark and Canada.

“Over this period, on average around 30 per cent of people with chronic pain were prescribed an opioid medicine,” said study lead author Stephanie Mathieson from the University of Sydney in Australia. “We noted that a higher proportion of people were prescribed a strong opioid medicine such as oxycodone compared to weak opioid pain-relieving medicines,” Mathieson added.

Opioids
In the early studies, opioids were prescribed to about 20 per cent of patients experiencing chronic pain. Pixabay

According to the researchers, in the period 1991-2015, prescribing of opioid medicines increased markedly. In the early studies, opioid medicines were prescribed to about 20 per cent of patients experiencing chronic pain but the later studies report rates of more than 40 per cent.

According to the findings, on average over this period approximately one in three patients (30.7 per cent) were prescribed an opioid medicine. The study found that 42 per cent of patients with chronic lower back pain were prescribed an opioid andthe average age of those prescribed an opioid medicine was 55.7 years.

In 17 studies that described the type of opioid pain relievers prescribed: 24.1 per cent were strong combination products containing opioids (eg oxycodone plus paracetamol), 18.4 per cent were strong opioids (eg oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl) and 8.5 percent were weak opioids (eg codeine, tramadol).

Also Read- Here’s How Dairy Milk Consumption Can Lead to Breast Cancer

The study aimed to establish a baseline for how commonly opioids are prescribed for people with chronic pain conditions (other than cancer). But the authors discovered a crucial evidence gap in prescription data in countries outside of the US. “While we have sufficient data for this purpose for the US, we have little or no data for other countries,” the authors wrote. (IANS)