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At present, 900 doctors and Cuban health personnel are providing services in Algeria. (The Islandsun Daily News)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 February 2018 — Algeria wants to put to rest rumors about the new contingent of Cuban doctors speculated to arrive from Cuba. The Algerian Ministry of Health has denied that the agreement signed in Havana on 30 January of this year included an increase in the number of health professionals from the island who would work in Algeria, and has clarified that the agreement updated the legal framework of exchanges already in progress, according to the Jeune Afrique newspaper.

“We have not requested new contingents of Cuban doctors,” said Slim Belkessam, spokesperson for the Algerian Ministry of Health.

“The agreement seeks to update the legal framework governing Algerian-Cuban cooperation in the healthcare sector, and there is now a single reference document that covers all the technical aspects of bilateral cooperation (…), including the management of medicines and equipment of Cuban origin used in ophthalmology clinics,” he added.

On 30 January, at the close of the 21st session of the bilateral intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation, Cuban Health Minister Roberto Morales and his Algerian counterpart Mokhtar Hasbellaoui signed an addendum to the healthcare agreement maintained by both countries.

Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, then expressed the satisfaction of the Cuban Government with agreements related to the supply of fuel, both those previously signed in Algiers and those planned to be signed “related to health and the business sector.”

At the end of 2017, the Algerian press had published information about the shipment of crude oil from Algeria to the Island, which stood at 2.1 million barrels, an amount that is expected to matched in 2018.

The information has never been confirmed by the Cuban government, which, due to the crisis in Venezuela, has turned to countries such as Algeria and Russia in search of alternative supplies of crude oil. The exchange for these resources was, according to the local press, more doctors from Cuba, a business that contributes between 8.0 and 11.5 billion dollars a year to Cuba’s state treasury, according to official data.

However, for Slim Belkessam, this news is a fiction. “The number of Cuban health professionals present on Algerian soil remains unchanged,” said the Algerian ministerial spokesman.

Currently, about 90 Cuban doctors and medical personnel are providing services in Algeria, in particular to support health care facilities in the south of the country. Island professionals supervise a cancer care center built in Ouargla and several ophthalmology clinics in the Algerian desert, including ones in Bechar, El Oued and Ouargla.

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