LA HABANA – The Cuban government closed 465 medical centers from its public health system during 2011 and laid off the personnel who worked there, a move made in keeping with the government's ongoing "readjustment" to reduce costs and more efficiently utilize resources.
According to the most recent figures published by the National Statistics and Information Office, there were 13,203 health care centers in the country in 2010 and 12,738 in 2011.
The health care system registered a shortage of personnel in certain areas but an excess in others, according to studies published in the official press.
The total number of personnel in the sector in 2010 was 282,248, but after the payroll adjustment in 2011 there were 265,617, a 5.9 percent reduction.
The number of doctors assigned to community health care facilities was drastically reduced from 36,478 to 13,367, a 63.4 percent cut.
The government laid off 780 pharmacists and 6,590 nurses and their auxiliaries, along with 11,718 medical technicians in assorted fields, according to the report.
However, the overall number of physicians rose from 76,506 to 78,622.
Cuba eliminated 140,000 state jobs in 2011 and plans to lay off another 110,000 state workers this year, when it expects to reach the halfway point in the labor readjustment being undertaken on the island.
The progressive elimination of 500,000 state jobs through 2015 is one of the main elements of the economic reform plan launched by the government of Raúl Castro along with the expansion of private business.