In policy shift, Cuba welcomes back doctors who deserted

By David Boddiger

HAVANA, Cuba – Cuba has decided to allow doctors who deserted while on foreign missions to return home without punishment or loss of position in the state health care system, the government said Friday.

The action comes amid worries of a brain drain of Cuban medical professionals as the Communist-ruled island loosens long-time restrictions on emigration.

Doctors in particular have faced stringent restrictions on travel since the 1960s, and stiff sanctions awaited those who deserted from government-sponsored missions in foreign countries.

Under the new policy announced by the Health Ministry, doctors who deserted while on foreign missions are being welcomed back. They “have the opportunity, if they so desire, to rejoin our National Health System, and will be guaranteed work placement in conditions similar to those they had before,” a ministry statement said.

Likewise, Cuban doctors who have emigrated under a more open policy introduced in 2013 can also return, although with no guarantee of working for the state system. In the past, deserters and emigres alike were barred from visiting the country for periods of five to 10 years, or even for life in some cases.

An estimated 25,000 doctors and a similar number of health professionals currently serve in international missions in 68 countries. But the missions … continue reading

Via:: Tico Times