Thursday, June 2, 2011

363. Cuba Has 14 Percent Fewer Healthcare Employees

Reductions include pharmaceutical,
X-ray and dental assistants 

BY Associated Press, The Washington Post, June 1, 2011
HAVANA — Tens of thousands of Cubans are no longer employed in the island’s widely praised health care system, authorities said Wednesday, after warning last year of a need to slash redundant jobs among less-skilled medical workers.
Overall employment in the sector fell 14 percent in 2010 to about 282,000, compared with 330,000 the previous year, according to a report released by the National Statistics Office.
The biggest change was a 34 percent drop in technicians and auxiliary workers, from 134,000 to 88,000, it said. The report did not explain the drop, but said the category included employees such as pharmaceutical, X-ray and dental assistants.
There were only slight changes in numbers for high-skill medical workers such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists, the report said.
Cuba prides itself on providing free, universal health care despite its economic problems.
But state-run media said last year that the government needed to cut “inflated payrolls” in health care. Among the examples cited then were ambulance bases with many drivers for a single vehicle, clinics with more workers than patients on a given shift, and X-ray technicians who performed only a few scans each month.
The Health Ministry’s labor director, Dr. Armando Guerra, told the Communist Party newspaper Granma last June that the sector was undergoing a reorganization.
President Raul Castro also said last year that a half-million state employees would be let go to improve efficiency and productivity amid Cuba’s economic crisis, though those plans have been put on hold. Cuba is legalizing limited private-sector employment in its effort to boost the economy and absorb laid-off government workers.

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