Following a health agreement signed last year, 100 Cuban doctors will travel to Kenya to fill gaps in specialty care at Kenyan hospitals.
Fifty Kenyan doctors will be sent to Cuba for specialized training.
Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki said the visiting personnel would include critical care physicians – family physicians, physicists, oncologists and surgeons dealing with plastic reconstructive surgery, orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery – desperately needed in the counties.
Each Kenyan county is expected to get at least two of the specialist doctors for a two year contract term.
The agreement will also see Kenya work with Cuba on collaborative research projects, training for healthcare workers, and collaborations in fields such as genetic engineering and biotech work.
But the ambitious exchange was not to the liking of union leader Samuel Oroko who said it failed to address Kenya’s severe imbalance in its doctor-patient ratio.
“The World Health Organization requires that we have one doctor per 1,000 patients in any given population, but currently in Kenya we have one doctor per 24,000 patients,” said Oroko, who chairs the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union. “Where are they going to get the money to employ the ones coming from Cuba?”
Oroko says the medical union is not against any collaboration or partnership with other governments.
“Our appeal and advice is that before we consider bringing expertise from other countries, we need to exhaust what we have locally,” he said. “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.”
The union says more than 1,200 Kenyan doctors have been unemployed since May 2017.
Foreign doctors already man some Kenyan hospitals. Data from the medical board shows 2,400 foreign doctors serve in the country — a majority are not specialists. Most are Egyptians, Indians and Pakistanis and lately an influx of Congolese, Ugandan and Rwandese doctors has been observed.
The medical deal emerged from the recent visit to Cuba of Pres. Uhuru Kenyatta and other top officials of the Jubilee Party which says it is studying different templates of Party structures, methodologies of organization and mobilization.
Future trips are planned to Tanzania and Europe.