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‘Unpatriotic’: South Africa’s Health Workers Protest Imported Cuban Slave Doctors

Doctors and nurses in South Africa protested the arrival of over 200 Cuban slave doctors to the country this week after reports surfaced indicating the country would have to pay the Communist regime far more than it would have if it had just hired local doctors.

South Africa’s government argued that importing Cuban slave doctors was necessary to fight the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. Reports indicate Cuba makes as much as $11 billion a year sending its doctors worldwide and pays them a tiny portion of those proceeds, only a living “stipend” to prevent them from becoming homeless or starving. The Organization of American States (OAS) has referred to the Cuban slave doctor program as “human trafficking.”

 South Africa’s New24 documented the arrival of 217 Cuban slave doctors to Waterkloof airforce base in South Africa on Monday, identifying them as “family physicians, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, healthcare technology engineers, biotechnology experts, and other specialists.”
“We ask[ed] the government of Cuba and the people of Cuba to send a multidisciplinary team of experts and health professionals. These men and women are to work alongside South African health professionals in our response to Covid-19 [the Chinese coronavirus disease],” South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor reportedly said upon their arrival. “Cuba has once again proven the character of its nation through its act of international human solidarity.”

The Cuban communist regime enjoys an outsized positive reputation in South Africa due to dictator Fidel Castro’s longstanding support for Nelson Mandela, particularly prior to his release and ascent to leading the country out of the Apartheid era.

South African journalists have published several reports estimating the price of this “human solidarity.” The online newspaper Daily Maverick reported on Thursday that documents believed to be from the South African government suggest that the price of the hundreds of doctors is at least 439,916,337 rand (nearly $24 million), though that price is based on a smaller number of doctors that those who actually arrived. The outlet noted that “both the Treasury and the Department of Health failed to respond to repeated requests for comment on the matter from Daily Maverick and other media outlets – which in itself may be revealing.”

Business Day, another South African newspaper, appears to be the origin of the documents in question. South Africa’s The Times estimated that, if accurate, the price for the total service means that it costs about 2.35 million rand ($127,624.79) per Cuban doctor, far more than the regular salary for a South African doctor.

News24 confirmed the veracity of the document showing that price. The outlet reported the doctors would not be able to work for a 14-day period in which they will be held in quarantine. It is not clear if Cuba is being paid for services that would otherwise have been rendered during those two weeks.

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) told Business Day that “a public sector registrar or mid-level medical officer, comparable to a Cuban family physician, commands a salary of about R1.2m [$65,170.10] a year.”

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