Cuba to send doctors to work in Saudi Arabia

June 25, 2013 - 2:19:16 pm
HAVANA: Cuba will send temporary medical personnel to work in Saudi Arabia under a deal reached this week with Riyadh, officials in Havana announced.

The foreign ministry said Monday that Saudi Arabia will become the latest country to receive doctors from Cuba, which contracts its medical professionals to work in nations around the world.

"The first group of Cuban doctors will work in the King Saud Medical City and at the Prince Salman Hospital, two of the most prestigious Saudi medical institutions," it said in a statement.

Cuba's ambassador Enrique Enriquez signed the agreement on Sunday in Riyadh, the ministry said.

Officials from both countries are now negotiating "other types of medical cooperation, which would let the Saudi health system benefit from the experience of the public health sector in Cuba," the statement read.

The government of President Raul Castro hopes to expand the paid program because it produces an annual income stream of $6 billion a year an important source of hard currency for the cash-strapped Caribbean island.

As of May, Cuba had 38,870 medical personnel working abroad, including 15,407 doctors, said Yiliam Jimenez, head of the office that coordinates foreign medical cooperation.

The Cuban doctors work in 66 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Forty of the participating nations are poor countries receiving free medical assistance as part of a program designed by former president Fidel Castro in 1998.

The remaining 26 countries including Venezuela, China, South Africa and Algeria pay for the medical workers' services. (AFP)