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Government ends agreement with Cuba for medical specialists

The government announced Tuesday it is ending a bilateral health cooperation agreement with Cuba. The agreement, in effect for a decade, has brought hundreds of medical specialists to Ecuador to work in medically under-served communities.

Hundreds of Cuban specialist doctors have worked in Ecuador since 2010.

The announcement was made by Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo who said the move means “there will be no renewal of agreements or new agreements between Ecuador’s and Cuba’s health ministries.”

According to Romo, Cuban doctors will be replaced by Ecuadorian specialists who will be called on to apply for nearly 400 positions. She said that there are currently enough specialty doctors in Ecuador to cover the need.

Romo said the agreement with Cuba will conclude at the end of December. “For several months, the government has been in the process of replacing the foreign doctors with Ecuadorian doctors and we see this continuing. For this reason, we see no need to continue the agreement.”

The agreement with Cuba was signed during the presidency of Rafael Correa who said that Ecuador needed more doctors, especially specialists, in rural and Amazonian communities. He said that services were needed for low-income citizens.

Earlier this year, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro ended an agreement similar to Ecuador’s for Cuban doctors. Last week, the interim government of Bolivia ordered Cuban doctors in that country to leave.