The Portuguese government has contracted 42 Colombian doctors to work in the country due to a scarcity of local medics, international media reported Monday.
Portugal’s Deputy State Health Secretary Manuel Pizarro announced that the doctors will attend to nearly 70,000 patients in the General and Family Medical Services sector, in which the country has registered a deficit of specialists for several years.
The doctors will work in various health centers throughout Lisbon and the Algarve, through a three-year bilateral contract signed between Colombia and Portugal.
“Naturally they will still need some weeks for a more complete adaptation, but we have prior experience … with doctors from Uruguay and Cuba and we are confident that this adaptation will happen satisfactorily as much for the doctors as for the patients,” said Pizarro, though he admitted that the solution is temporary, and not ideal in the long term.
The announcement has generated debate in Portugal, with medical students at the local Colegio de Medicos rejecting the move, saying that the chosen medics do not have adequate specialization in the field.
Before arriving in Portugal, the candidates were selected from a group of more than 300 applicants in Bogota, and underwent a course in Portuguese in order to ease the adaptation process.