Cuba increases doctors’ salaries from $21 to $56 to retain them

HAVANA – The Cuban regime increased salaries for more than 400,000 doctors, nurses and technicians with the purpose of preventing the flight of specialists and retaining them in hospitals.

The benefits are for night and weekend shifts, as well as for seniority, for working in specialized or risk services and for assuming greater workloads due to lack of personnel.

This “above all helps us sleep a little more peacefully, which was what we had lost, sleep, calculating what to buy” to be able to face the high cost of daily life, Alexey López, a 59-year-old cardiologist who He works in the intensive care room at the Calixto García hospital, one of the most prestigious on the island.

Cost of living through the roof

The monthly income of this cardiologist went from 6,500 Cuban pesos to 17,000, equivalent to 54 and 141 dollars respectively, according to the official price, but they are 21 and 56 dollars if the value of the currency on the black market is taken into account, which marks prices on the streets of Cuba.

The Vice Minister of Health, Luis Fernando Navarro, explained that this measure aims to “comprehensively improve the living conditions of workers.”

However, for Amanda, a 48-year-old physical therapist who requests anonymity, the 1,400 pesos she received on the 4,000 she earned monthly are insufficient and she says she will have to “look for other options that generate income” to survive.

In the midst of an inflationary escalation since 2021, when the regime applied a monetary reform that did not have the expected results, a package of eggs can cost up to 3,000 Cuban pesosas an example.

The Vice Minister of Health admits that “perhaps this increase is not what the current cost of living in Cuba demands” for the “permanent” increase in prices, but emphasizes that the regime has made an “effort” to allocate 26% of public spending to health in 2024.

Health is the second largest labor sector in Cuba after teaching, also benefiting from salary increases.


Between 2022 and 2023, more than 40,000 health workers left the profession to take other better-paid jobs, or emigrated, amid the exodus affecting the island, according to figures from the Ministry of Health.

With these stimuli, the authorities gave a break to doctors and teachers, the two “pillars” of the so-called revolution, before implementing a battery of painful economic measures announced for 2024, among which is a 500% increase in the price of fuel.

Characteristic of the Cuban regime, the vice minister blamed the crisis on the intensification of the United States embargo against the island, the internal structural weaknesses of the Cuban economy, financing limitations and the increase in the price of inputs in the international market “have caused the system (health) work in very stressful conditions”, in his opinion.

Who else?

Between old cardiology monitors and inadequate beds for seriously ill patients, López regrets the lesser presence of doctors and nurses.

“We have suffered the economic impact of the country today in medical equipment, supplies, expendable (disposable) material and medicines,” adds the cardiologist.

Sometimes doctors have to buy their own stethoscopes and other work tools. In this intensive care area there is a lack of nasogastric and bladder tubes, syringes and disposable supplies that do not exist in the country.

López denies that emigrating has “crossed his mind,” but he assures that he would like these incentives to be applied directly to the salaries of medical personnel to avoid losing them in retirement or when taking vacations.

“I know many colleagues who have left and today these measures still do not encourage them to return,” he says before checking on a patient.

“If they don’t deserve it, who is going to deserve it? They are the best!” says Francisco Morín, 75 years old, with electrodes attached to his chest.

FOUNTAIN: With information from AFP