Cuba offers doctors, awaits RP reply
By Francis Earl A. Cueto, Reporter
Doctors in the Philippines are turning themselves into nurses to be able
to work abroad immediately, with the United States seen as their
preferred destination. Their departure is said to worsen the so-called
brain drain in the Philippines.
Cuba can help Manila stop the apparent bleeding, Havana's top diplomatic
official in the Philippines told The Manila Times during an exclusive
roundtable interview on Thursday.
Cuban Ambassador to Manila Jorge Rey Jimenez said his country is
practically overflowing with doctors and other medical practitioners,
whom Havana could deploy to the Philippines if the government of
President Gloria Arroyo would welcome them. Manila, however, has not
responded to Cuba's offer to send them over.
"We have lots of doctors and medical practitioners. We have offered
[them] to the Philippines, but your government has yet to make its
move," Jimenez said.
Some local health officials and even nongovernment organizations
supposedly have intimated that Cuban doctors can work with them in
several public-health programs and hospitals.
Jimenez said he understands the flight of Filipino doctors who want to
work overseas as nurses. He added that the Philippine government might
consider taking in Cuban doctors to replace those local doctors leaving
the country. If Manila does, Jimenez said, the deal need not be strictly
The ambassador disclosed that 17,000 Cuban doctors and dentists, for
example, provide medical and dental services in Venezuela. Caracas, in
exchange, supplies Cuba with 100,000 barrels a day of subsidized oil.
The foreign doctors are said to have helped bring down maternal and
child deaths in oil-rich Venezuela to only a fifth of their former level.
A fact sheet given by the Cuban Embassy in Manila to The Manila Times
showed that doctor to population ratio in Cuba is one for every 158. In
the Philippines, the ratio is one for every 10,000 to 26,000 Filipinos.
In the United States, it is said to be one for every 150.
From 2000 to 2003, the Philippines lost 51,850 nurses. Over 5,000
registered doctors left from 2001 to 2004. At least 6,000 doctors are
studying to be nurses.
Over 50,000 caregivers have been trained at the government's Technical
Skills and Development Authority and accredited schools, with half of
them already deployed abroad.