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Pay raise for Cuban doctors recruited by Brazil

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Brasilia, Feb 28 (EFE).- The Brazilian government announced Friday that it will raise the wages of close to 7,400 Cuban doctors it recruited for its healthcare program in poor areas following the defections that occurred at the beginning of the month.

The wages Cuban doctors receive will be raised from the current $400 a month to $1,125 beginning in March, Health Minister Arthur Chioro told a press conference.

The raise required negotiations with Cuban authorities, to whom Brazil pays 10,000 reais ($4,255) a month for each professional in line with a cooperation accord mediated by the Pan American Health Organization.

Brazil will not be spending more, while Cuba will boost the amount it sends to each doctor, according to Chioro.

"The increase in salaries does not raise the amount Brazil pays for their services. We reached an agreement with PAHO and we depend on the good faith of the Cuban government to increase the amount the doctors receive," the minister said.

Each doctor originally received $400 for living in Brazil, while Cuba deposited another $600 in a bank account in Havana that the health professionals could only withdraw at the end of the contract.

Following the new accord, Cuba will pay $1,000 directly to each of their doctors in Brazil and will raise its monthly contribution by $245.

The negotiation came after at least two Cuban doctors defected in Brazil and complained of the little money their received from Havana to work in a country with a higher cost of living than that of other nations where they have served.

Brazilian authorities admit they have no idea of the whereabouts of three other Cuban doctors, who apparently also defected.

For the program "Mas Medicos" (More Doctors), aimed at improving healthcare in isolated rural areas and urban slums, the Brazilian government has contracted some 9,420 foreign doctors to date, of whom close to 70 percent are from Cuba.

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