Foreign doctors: the solution for Brazil’s health system?

When millions of Brazilians took to the streets during the protests this past June, one of the most common demands was the desire to have an adequate public health care system, with doctors, clinics and hospitals that would follow the FIFA standard, a reference to the high quality of the soccer stadiums built for FIFA World Cup in 2014.


President Dilma Roussef tried to respond quickly to these demands, announcing the implementation of the program Mais Médicos (More Doctors).

The program tries to tackle with Brazil’s overall deficit of physicians and to correct their uneven distribution along the national territory with three different measures: (i) the creation of more 11,500 new vacancies on Brazilian medical schools until 2017; (ii) the institution of a mandatory period of 2 years in which all newly graduated doctors will have to work within the public health system, which shall be implemented in 2015; (iii) and the recruitment of more than 10,000 new doctors to cover regions that currently present the biggest deficit in available doctors.

This last measure is by far the most polemic, since it includes the recruitment of foreign doctors, who will not have to have to take the national exam usually applied to all those graduates from foreign medical schools who want to practice in Brazil.

The fact that among the foreign doctors who will be brought to Brazil there will be 4,000 Cuban doctors, thanks to a bilateral agreement signed between Brazil and Cuba, added an even more complex political element to the debate about the solution proposed by Brazilian government.

While the debate about the advantages and the problems of the program follows on, the first group of foreign doctors has already arrived.

In order to better understand the program and its critiques, you can visit the official website of the program (only in Portuguese), as well as the following articles in The Guardian, The Economist,  NY Times, and Washington Post.

About Paulo Marzionna

CLASS Secretary - MS/PhD Candidate at Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations
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