The national government has renewed its bilateral agreement with Cuba for the deployment of 100 Cuban doctors in the counties.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe renewed the deal on June 12, saying that his ministry will be reviewing the specialization mix to respond to the needs within counties.
“The continued services of the doctors in the counties is therefore assured. The counties will continue to meet their obligations as per the Memoranda of Understanding,” said CS Kagwe.
The medical specialists arrived in the country two years ago amid high hopes that they would help public hospitals in the counties to address healthcare challenges.
But their arrival was also greeted with criticism by local medical professionals who fear that their jobs were at stake since some of the Cuban medics were more qualified than them.
Many Kenyans say that they have not felt the presence of the Cuban medics with the chairman of Muslims for Human Rights, Khelef Khalifa, noting that they have been missing in action.
“We have no idea where the Cuban doctors are. If they are in Naironbi, then it beats the purpose of importing their services. We need to feel their input in the fight against Covid-19,” said Khalifa.
Some of the doctors fled from the rural counties where they were posted because of insecurity, especially the fear of kidnapping by Al-Shabaab in counties bordering Somalia.
In April 2019, Al-Shabaan militants kidnapped doctors Landy Rodriquez and Herera Correa in Mandera town.
Their colleagues in Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Lamu, Taita Taveta were withdrawn never to set foot again in the areas.
Because of the security challenges, the doctors have had to be given police officers to guard them.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union Coast branch Secretary, Dr. Abidan Mwachi, said that they had asked for the termination of the deal because there was no value for money.
“We had two at the hospital but one of them went and never came back. We are still of the opinion that they were hired at a very exorbitant fee because they are being paid almost 10 times the salary of their local counterparts,” he said.
Dr Mwachi said that one of the two doctors who was posted to the Coast Provincial General Hospital in Mombasa went on leave last year and never returned to work.
Mombasa County Director of Communication Richard Chacha said they hope that the doctor will still return to work.
In Kwale, two doctors attached to Msabweni County Referral Hospital were moved to Mombasa from Ukunda where they had been residing. They have been commuting to Msabweni daily.