The arrival of 100 Cuban specialist doctors was met with a mixture of skepticism and approval. As they settled down to work, stories emerged of how well they blended with locals and the impact they were having in their fields. All was well until Kenya yesterday woke up to grim news that two of them had been abducted in Mandera.
What could have gone wrong, that a government which knows only too well the dangers that bedevil the region could be caught flat-footed in a case involving the expatriates? In the past, Kenyans have lost lives in Mandera, in attacks instigated by terrorist elements. The least the government could have done was to ensure continuous surveillance and beefed up security. With a fledgling healthcare, Kenya cannot afford to lower its guard in its duty to rein in such brazen attacks that only serve to hurt the lives of people by disrupting government services.
We strongly condemn the attack, and urge security agencies to heighten security for all Cuban doctors working in Kenya. The government must support the doctors to operate in a free environment without them having to watch over their backs. This is because a threat to security anywhere is a threat to security everywhere.
Indeed, Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai must now hit the ground running and ensure that intelligence is top-notch while increasing patrols around hospitals. Further, the government must get to the bottom of the attack and uncover those behind it. A lot has been said about our country's engagement in Somalia, and if Al Shabaab elements had a role in this, then firm steps must be taken to eliminate the threat.
Finally, improved security should not mean giving each of the doctors personalised security, but improving the overall security situation, especially in volatile areas. It would be pointless to treat only the symptoms. Increased intelligence and action hold key to dealing with this menace. The least the government can do now is to act fast, find the abducted doctors and punish the perpetrators.