Friday, March 21, 2014

Cuba hikes salaries for doctors, nurses

Posted on Friday, 03.21.14

Cuba hikes salaries for doctors, nurses

HAVANA -- Cuba is giving hundreds of thousands of medical workers raises
that in some cases exceed 100 percent, official media on the island
announced Friday, though pay remains much lower than what medical
professionals earn elsewhere.

The Communist Party daily newspaper Granma also reported that Cuba
expects to take in $8.2 billion this year for the tens of thousands of
medical worker it sends to care for the poor in countries such as
Venezuela and Brazil.

Granma published a sample of what the pay hikes, which take effect June
1, will look like. At the high end, doctors with two specialties will
see their salary go from the equivalent of $26 a month to $67, while an
entry-level nurse will make $25, up from $13.

Salaries at government jobs in Cuba average about $20 a month, augmented
by a range of free services and subsidies.

The raise will affect more than 440,000 medical sector employees, Granma
said, and was made possible by the elimination of 109,000 redundant jobs
in the last four years.

"This is very good news that makes me tremendously happy. ... With my
first paycheck I'm going to buy a toy for my youngest grandson, who's
3," said Soraida Pina, a 62-year-old nurse. "This will open new doors
for me."

Others were less wowed.

"They had talked to us about this, and it's very important for the
family economy, but it continues to be a salary that means very little
because everything is very expensive," said Laura Vazquez, a 38-year-old

Cuba also is raising the salaries of medical workers on international
missions, which already pay higher salaries and in hard currency.

Doctors and nurses working in Cuban ally Venezuela, for example, will
see their salaries double.

The changes "will contribute to the stability and quality of the medical
services for the people, as well as fulfill international commitments,"
Granma said.

The paper added that the forecast revenue from overseas medical missions
for 2014 represents 64 percent of income from the services sector.

Health Minister Roberto Morales said recently that more than 50,000
Cuban health care professionals are working in some 66 nations.

That includes an estimated 30,000 in Venezuela, which sends Cuba some
92,000 barrels of oil a day, with a total value of about $3.2 billion a

Cuba has not made public how much it pays doctors on foreign missions,
though it is believed to be a small fraction of what it collects from
the nations where they serve.

Some doctors defect while abroad, though there are no official
statistics on how many.

Source: HAVANA: Cuba hikes salaries for doctors, nurses - Business
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