Cuban Doctors Who Stayed in Brazil, Patience Might Finally Pay Off

“Doctor, today the windows are to cleaned”, “Doctor, this needs washing …” For the owners of the houses where she worked for months doing housework, Idalma was still ‘the Doctor’. She was never called by her name.

Idalma Leyva, a 54-year-old Cuban doctor and specialist in ‘Comprehensive General Medicine’, lives in Nova Odessa, São Paulo, Brazil. Many things have happened in her life, ever since last November 13th.

On that day, the Cuban government withdrew from the ‘More Doctors’ program, a collaboration agreement between the Brazilian government, the Pan American Health Organization (OPAS) and the government of Cuba, which had been signed in 2013 during the presidency of Dilma Rousseff. Once Cuba left, the program was closed on February 7, 2019.

Idalma is one of approximately 1,800 Cuban doctors who decided to not return to Cuba in November 2018 as the Ministry of Health instructed. From that moment on, she had to adapt to new living conditions in Brazil. First, her permission to practice medicine became invalid (as a result of the contract’s end with Cuba) and then the non-inclusion of Cuban doctors in the calls launched by the Brazilian government in December and February to cover the places left by the islanders.


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