Government defends decision to hire Cuban doctors

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Cuban president Raul Castro. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Nairobi, KENYA: The government has defended its move of collaborating with Cuba to bring more doctors in the country.

Speaking during the launch of the Kenya Health Forum KHF on Monday in Nairobi, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the government is expecting approximately 100 medical specialists who will improve the country’s health sector with skills and training of Kenyans doctors for almost two years.

“Foreign doctors from Cuba will assist in training the medical expatriate in all 47 counties,” said Kariuki.

However, the CS added that the government has a proper framework to impart skills on more health workers who will be used to treat the patient in county hospitals with an aim of reducing congestion in referral hospitals.

“We have approximately 1000 qualified doctors who are yet to be employed soon,” she added.

Kariuki also said that the government will continue to focus on improving the scope and quality of health services available to the population while reducing financial risks associated with the use of essentials services.

The CS also vowed to do what it takes to foster change in the health industry so as to make universal Health coverage available for all.

During the launch, the ministry launched key documents and tools that have been developed to aid in delivering performance reports detailing progress against targets.

The move is said to strengthen health sector policy dialogue process and information sharing hence, assist in solving problems in the matters health.

“We are fully committed to sustainable development goals (SDGs) in ensuring healthy lives and universal health coverage for all (UHC).” She added.

The government was earlier reported saying the decision was taken so as to fill in the existing doctor-patient ratio gap in county hospitals.

In the deal, each county will get at least two doctors. But, is that really enough?

Data from the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board shows that the country has a shortage of 34,445 doctors.

Currently, the board has registered a total of 4,344 doctors who serve close to 38 million Kenyans across the country.

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) officials faulted the government’s move to outsource labour yet close to 1,000 doctors are yet to be deployed in counties.

“We have a serious shortage of doctors in the country. The government should consider the more than 1,200 Kenyan doctors currently unemployed since May 2017,” Mwachonda Chibanzi, KMPDU deputy secretary, said.

Secretary general Ouma Oluga said that it would be unfair for the government to outsource labour yet Kenyan doctors are unemployed.

“There are currently 2,400 foreign doctors working in the country. If these ones come, the number will go up to 2,500. Where are they going to place Kenyan doctors?” Oluga asked.

Oluga also noted that a total of 700 doctors resigned while others left the country for further studies in 2016 and 2017.