Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president, has accused the nation’s doctors of “immense prejudice” towards their Cuban counterparts after the first medics to arrive from Havana were greeted with jeers.
The Cuban doctors have been invited to work in Brazil to support the fragile health system – one of the issues that prompted mass protests in June. Under the government’s Mais Médicos (More Doctors) programme, 4,000 Cuban professionals will work in poor and remote areas of Brazil that are short of hospital staff.
After the first contingent of 400 arrived at the weekend they were booed by local doctors, who oppose what they describe as a stop-gap measure that fails to address the need for more investment in hospitals and better pay for doctors.
The Brazilian government, under pressure to improve public health services, has dropped plans to import a contingent of Cuban doctors and is instead looking to hire physicians in Spain and Portugal, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
The plan to bring in Cuban doctors created a backlash because of questions about their qualifications. Brazilian medical associations argued that standards at Cuba’s medical schools were lower than in Brazil and equivalent in some cases to a nursing education.
Brazil was rocked last month by massive protests fueled by frustration with a high cost of living and deplorable public transportation, education and health services, plus anger over the billions that will be spent to host the 2014 World Cup.
Doctors with a diploma obtained abroad, invited by the Brazilian government to work in primary care, can be based in large centers such as the city of São Paulo.
To do so, the professional must serve the regions of the municipality where there is currently a shortage of doctors, such as the outskirts of the city. Since the beginning of the debate, the Ministry of Health has stressed that the goal is to serve these regions, in addition to cities in the countryside.
“Of course the greatest need is in the North and Northeast, but not only the cities in the countryside. The outskirts of the large cities also have a shortage of doctors,” Minister Alexandre Padilha (Health) said to Folha.
Brazil’s anti-AIDS program will be expanded to include at least 35,000 more people, a Health Ministry official said Wednesday.
Ronaldo Hallal of the ministry’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Department said people with 500 or fewer CD4 cells per cubic millimeter will receive anti-retroviral HIV treatment. Before the program’s expansion, people with 350 or less CD4 cells per cubic millimeter received treatment.
CD4 cell levels measure the strength of the immune system.
Brazil, the land of suntanned, slender, bikini-wearing beauties and lean muscular macho men, is now facing a health problem more associated with the advanced economies of western Europe and North America – rising rates of obesity.
According to a survey by the nation’s Ministry of Health, nearly half (48.5 percent) of the Brazilian population was overweight as of 2011, up from 42.7 percent just five years before.
Moreover, the proportion of Brazilians who are obese leaped from 11.4 percent to 15.8 percent over that period.
Eating on the run and sugary drinks has nearly half the Brazilian population now classified as overweight or worse — obese. Investors, look for Brazilian health care and medical device names trading on the BM&F Bovespa, because fat is trending.
The thought of overweight Brazilians flies in the face of the stereotype that the country is teeming with tall, tan and trim bodies. But as Brazilians go from drinking milk from a plastic bag for breakfast with maybe a cookie, to maybe popping down a Red Bull instead, more and more Brazilians are eating like a middle class society: on the run, loaded with sugar, or just overdoing it at the buffet restaurants that dominate the São Paulo lunch hour scene.
According to the country’s Health Ministry, 43% of adults were overweight in 2006. The government considers people overweight if their fat content is more than 25% of their body weight. In 2011, the number rose to 48.5%. Those who have more than 30% body fat are considered obese, and their numbers have grown from just 11% in 2006 to 15.8% today.