Nearly 74 percent of Brazilians support President Dilma Rousseff’s decision to recruit physicians from Cuba and other foreign nations to bolster this country’s struggling public health system, a poll released Tuesday shows.
The survey, commissioned by the National Transport Confederation, an industry group, also found more than 49 percent of respondents are confident the hiring of doctors from abroad “will aid greatly” in improving healthcare in Brazil.
More than 40 percent of respondents described the quality of care currently provided by the Brazilian public health system as “terrible” or “bad.”
Polling firm MDA talked to 2,002 registered voters in 21 of Brazil’s 27 states during the period Aug. 31-Sept. 4.
Rousseff’s administration hired foreign physicians, including 4,000 from Cuba, as part of its response to complaints about the quality of the public health system that featured prominently in nationwide protests in June.
The initiative also includes increasing the supply of domestically trained doctors and an ambitious program of hospital-building.
But the idea of recruiting foreign physicians to staff hospitals and clinics in slums and remote rural sparked opposition from the Brazilian medical association.
The National Federation of Physicians said the Cuban doctors will be working under conditions akin to slavery and that the agreement will only help fill the coffers of the Communist government in Havana.
While the Federation insists Brazil has no shortage of doctors, figures from the World Health Organization show the giant South American nation has 1.8 physicians per 1,000 residents, compared with 3.7 in Uruguay and 3.2 in Argentina.