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Cuban doctors

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil will import thousands of Cuban doctors to work in areas where medical services and physicians are scarce, and Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota defended the plan Thursday as a way to give “the best possible medical services for the Brazilian population.’’

The Health Ministry said in a statement posted on its website that it signed an agreement with the Pan-American Health Organization to hire 4,000 Cuban doctors, who are expected to arrive in Latin America’s biggest country by the end of the year. The first 400 are scheduled to arrive within the next few days.

The government is bringing in Cuban doctors after failing to attract enough Brazilian and foreign physicians to its “More Doctors’’ program meant to send professionals to work in needy urban and rural areas for three years.

The government created the program following mass street demonstrations across Brazil in which protesters demanded better public services.