A week after leading medical associations rejected the federal government’s plan to hire some 500 Cuban doctors, Mexican doctors continue to insist that there is a surplus rather than a shortage of doctors.
President López Obrador announced May 9 that more than 500 Cuban doctors would come to work in Mexico “because we do not have the doctors we need.”
The heads of 30 medical colleges, associations and federations subsequently issued a statement to express their “profound disapproval” of the government’s plan, saying that it was justified by a supposed rather than real shortage of doctors.
Unemployed doctors have now launched a social media campaign to highlight that they are ready and willing to work but unable to find a job. More than 1,300 doctors have already joined the #AquiEstamos (Here We Are) campaign, according to organizers.
Its most prominent leader is Ana Cecilia Jara Ettinger, a young doctor who has been trying to find a position in the public health system for two years.
“The president of Mexico just said that we don’t have specialist doctors in Mexico and because of that we need to hire Cuban doctors,” she said in a video posted to social media.
The genetics specialist bluntly rejected the claim. “There are no jobs. There is not a single position in which I can work,” Jara said.
“This is just in genetics, the specialty of the future in the United States and Europe but in Mexico there are no jobs,” she said.
Jara, who studied medicine at the National Autonomous University and undertook research in Israel and Italy, said her fellow graduates in specialities such as gynecology and pediatrics are also unable to find work.
“The president says the jobs are in rural areas. I have a lot of friends who want to return to their cities, to their home towns to practice. Where are the jobs?” she said.
“If you say there are no doctors in Mexico I can tell you there are a lot of doctors and a lot of specialists, we’re on waiting lists for years and years to get a job,” Jara said.
She called on other unemployed doctors to join the #AquiEstamos movement.
— Ana Ceci 🧬 (@DraAnaCeci) May 17, 2022
“You can fill out the form on our webpage so the president knows where we are, how many we are, what [area of medicine] we dedicate ourselves to and where jobs are urgently needed,” Jara said. “There is talent in Mexico, of course there is. We have a lot of doctors and we are looking for work.”
Jara, who has indicated that she is prepared to leave Mexico City if she can find a job, said in a subsequent video that more than 1,300 doctors had registered – “doctors who have been waiting for a position and are willing to go and work.”
She also said the #AquiEstamos campaign has generated a lot of hate against doctors and her in particular. In a Twitter post, the doctor – daughter of former Michoacán governor Salvador Jara – rejected claims that she has links to a political party.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Jorge Alcocer echoed remarks made by López Obrador, saying that there are jobs available for doctors in rural parts of the country.
However, Mexican doctors are unwilling to work in remote areas and for that reason the government decided to hire Cubans, he said.
Alcocer said doctors cite insecurity as the main reason why they don’t want to work in rural areas of the country but claimed that they’re not interested in living in remote areas. “They’re forgetting … the right patients have to be attended to wherever they are,” he said.
Jara told the newspaper Reforma that out-of-work doctors are in fact looking for work outside major centers, but it appears that few have had any luck.
“I’ve looked in Sonora [and] in Michoacán because I’m from there,” she said. “We’ve gone to … the states, we’re not all looking to work in Mexico City, which is very saturated,” said the doctor, who claims that someone has to die or retire for a position to open up.
“… Having years of training is not a guarantee [to find a job], … there is no place for us, but there is for Cubans,” Jara said.