“A shameful scandal.” A group of MEPs, the Spaniards Javier Nart, Jordi Cañas and Leopoldo López, together with the grillina Laura Ferrara, heavily attack the agreement signed by the Calabria Region with Cuba for the arrival of 497 doctors from the Caribbean island to support Calabrian healthcare. They speak of exploitation and slavery in a letter sent to Governor Roberto Occhiuto who, no more than two months ago, recruited Cuban specialists to address the serious shortcomings of the regional health system, primarily the lack of personnel.
Cuban doctors arrive
In a couple of weeks 55 will arrive: «They will be destined for hospitals in the province of Reggio Calabria. The other doctors will be integrated later as needed, ”declares President Occhiuto, who has also been commissioner for health for some months. A post that the governor has taken on after 12 years of ruinous commissioner.
The agreement between the Calabria Region and Cuba
According to the agreement signed with the Comercializadora de Servicios Medicos Cubanos, a monthly budget of 4,700 euros is foreseen for each Cuban doctor: “The amounts for the services provided by each professional will be paid by the Calabria Region to the CSMC”, reads the document . The institution will advance to each specialist 1200 euros as a flat-rate reimbursement and in addition the expenses for accommodation and travel. The remaining 3,500 euros will be paid directly to the Cuban commercial company which will also open an office in Catanzaro, from which it will operate as a temporary employment company. So, will the Cuban government pocket the difference? In this case, as MEPs write, it would be exploitation and “a clear violation of human rights”, as per previous resolutions of the European Parliament. Many of the specialists, the letter addressed to Occhiuto still reads, “belong to the armed forces, forced to enlist due to the conditions of poverty in which they live in their country. The government retains the largest share of their salary ”.
The controversy over “Cuban” remuneration and hiring (missed)
«This is not exactly the case – replies Roberto Occhiuto – of the sums paid to Cuba, a percentage is always up to the doctors. How much, of course, we cannot be the ones to determine. Transnational agreements with Cuban medical organizations are nothing new. There will be no violation of human rights or any form of slavery “, adds the governor, accusing MEP grillina of having exposed herself only to make a” political struggle. “” Calabrian health care needs structural solutions and not “stopgaps” that legalize made the gangster », Ferrara insists. But the controversy is also fueled at the local level: the Order of doctors of Calabria raises doubts about the skills of Cuban specialists, expressing “strong doubts about the guarantees of quality in the assistance that will be provided by these foreign health workers”. And he asks for open-ended hiring competitions.
Occhiuto: “Soon new competitions”
«The Cuban healthcare model is among the most popular in the world – replies Occhiuto – So far the competitions to recruit doctors in Calabria have gone deserted and permanent positions refused. We will make new competitions, it is clear, the hiring of Cuban doctors is a transitory fact which however guarantees the provision of health services ».