Kenya will bring 100 doctors from Cuba to the country to accelerate a health agreement it signed last year. Fifty Kenyan doctors will also go to Cuba for specialized training.
The Kenyan government says the deal to import Cuban doctors would help counter gaps in Kenya’s medical facilities. Each Kenyan county is expected to receive two specialist doctors.
Kenya would also work with Cuba on research projects, training for healthcare workers, and collaborations in fields such as genetic engineering and biotech.
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Kenya’s Secretary for Health, Sicily Kariuki, explains, “The target is to bring 100 specialized doctors from Cuba. One is because of the HR resource gap that we have. We are careful not to crowd the place with general doctors and therefore the aim of my ministry is to bring forward critical care physicians at that level – family physicians, physicists, oncologists and surgeons dealing with plastic reconstructive surgery, dealing with orthopedic surgery and dealing with neurosurgery”.
Some argue that there are already doctors, including 1,200 Kenyan doctors who have been unemployed since May 2017, in the system.
Samuel Oroko, chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union told VOA, “Equally we do have a number of doctors who have qualified, both general practitioners and specialists, who have not been employed and they are Kenyans.”
Although the medical union is not against any collaboration or partnership with other governments, Oroko believes the deal will not address systemic dysfunction in Kenya’s health system.
“Our appeal and advice is that as we consider bringing expertise from other countries, we need to exhaust what we have locally. And if we lack capacity locally, we should focus on training our own so that they can be able to manage the patients in Kenya,” he said.
Last year, Kenyan doctors went on a three-month strike over pay and allowances. At the height of the strike, the government hired 500 doctors from Tanzania, but this move was blocked by the union. An agreement between the government and doctors ending the strike called for pay increases and medical risk allowances.