Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Brazilian health officials are preparing to issue a second call for doctors after 29 percent of those who were selected in November failed to report by Tuesday.
Some 8,500 positions were left vacant by Cuban doctors after Cuba ended a government-to-government program on November 14 and most have been filled. The Brazilian government immediately afterward issued a call for Brazilian doctors to replace the Cubans, filling all positions except for 106 places.
However, 2,439 Brazilian doctors, or 29 percent of the total chosen, and who were supposed to show up by a Tuesday deadline, failed to do so, G1 Globo reported Wednesday.
The government is now expected to make a new call for doctors not just to fill the 106 positions that remained vacant, but possibly also potentially including at least some or perhaps all of the 2,439 positions of the doctors that did not show up.
The deadline had been originally set for last Friday, but was extended to Tuesday.
The second call for doctors is expected to be made later this week but details have yet to be announced, including the number of vacant positions that will be available.
A report by Bahia Noticias confirmed 5,972 Brazilian doctors are already working in their assigned places, based on Health Ministry sources.
On November 14, Cuba ended a program under which it sent thousands of doctors to treat millions of poor Brazilians.
That program had been agreed with the government of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, in a government-to-government accord. The left-oriented government of Rousseff started the program in a bid to offer healthcare to underprivileged areas not just in Amazon communities, but also in the poorest neighborhoods of Brazil's bigger cities.
Cuba said that plans by Jair Bolsonaro, who will become Brazilian president in January, to sign individual accords with each doctor were not acceptable because the original intention of the program was to have a collective agreement, at a government level.
The government of Cuba, where medical education is offered for free, has programs under which it sends doctors to different parts of the world and collects the revenue, which goes into the national budget. The Cuban government compensates the doctors with a salary.