Thursday, 20 June, 2024
HomeNews UpdateCuban doctors must go home, says Kenya

Cuban doctors must go home, says Kenya

A parliamentary committee in Kenya wants the contracts of 100 Cuban doctors – who have been in the country for six years – terminated, recommending that the national government should send them home.

The National Assembly's Health Committee has also inquired about the whereabouts of Kenyan doctors who went to Havana in 2017 for an exchange programme under the same agreement.

Kenya had entered into a health pact with Cuba after the initiation of an exchange programme where Cuban doctors would help fill gaps in county hospitals while Kenyan doctors would be sent to Cuba for specialised training, similar to a scheme between South Africa and Cuba.

The committee, headed by Dr Robert Pukose, said during a meeting with the Ministry of Public Health & Professional Standards in Mombasa last week that the Cuban doctors “have done their job and it’s time for them to return home”.

The committee wants the state to rather employ more local doctors and paramedics, who are stationed in counties, under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme.

The lawmakers said the continued presence of Cuban doctors has put locally trained unemployed doctors at a disadvantage.

“Their salaries are enough to employ at least three Kenyan doctors. Local doctors with expertise in family medicine can fill these roles,” said Pukose.

However, Public Health & Professional Standards Principal Secretary Mary Muthoni defended the foreign doctors, highlighting their significant contributions to family medicine.

“Cuban doctors have played a crucial role in shifting the focus of the country's health system from curative to preventive care,” she said.

The first batch of Cuban doctors arrived in Nairobi from Havana in 2018: 53 general practitioners and 47 specialists. Their contracts were initially for two years, but they are still in the country.

They focus on areas like nephrology, radiology, orthopaedics, surgery and neurology, and their mandate also includes training local specialists to provide standards of care similar to those in Cuba.

But their arrival sparked controversy when it emerged they were being paid three times more than their local counterparts.

Their Kenyan colleagues were also concerned about language and cultural barriers, saying there would be misdiagnosis and under-diagnosis due to language difficulties.

The then deputy secretary general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPPDU), Chibanzi Mwachonda, said the employment of foreign doctors was in contravention of the WHO’s global code of practice on national recruitment of health workers.


Nation article – Waste of money? Why MPs want Cuban doctors kicked out (Restricted access)


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