Tanzanian doctors are expected in the country and will start working early next month.
However, the Nairobi County government has rejected the proposed employment of the foreign doctors.
County Health Executive Benard Muia yesterday said although the move to hire the doctors was welcome, the City County did not need the doctors because hospitals and health centres would not accommodate them.
“There is no room for the Tanzanian doctors in Nairobi because all the doctors have resumed work and the hospitals cannot accommodate them. The idea to have the foreign doctors from Tanzania is good but we do not need them,” said Mr Muia.
The expected arrival of the Tanzanian doctors was confirmed by Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu during a press briefing yesterday when he toured Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) to see the status of operations at the facility.
He was accompanied by the hospital’s CEO Lily Koros.
The Health CS revealed that operations at the hospital were expected to be back to normal after doctors reported back to duty.
“Everything is going back to normal here at Kenyatta Hospital. Doctors are reporting back and some of the patients are reporting back too,” said the CS.
Mailu reiterated that doctors from Uganda and Rwanda can still work in Kenya because they go through the same training and curriculum.
But the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) secretary general Ouma Oluga criticised the Government’s move of hiring doctors from Tanzania, saying Kenya had many unemployed doctors.
“Kenya has about 1,400 doctors awaiting employment. It is going to be very costly to employ Tanzanian doctors,” Dr Oluga said.
The union is also worried that the move could be a ploy by the Government to avoid signing their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
But the CS clarified that all doctors in the country were employed, saying if there was an unemployed doctor, then that was by their choice.
“Doctors are the only ones who are employed directly from college. Today, there isn’t any doctor who is not employed,” he said.
“All we are doing in employing doctors is within the law. As a country, we are taking these necessary measures because there is need for more doctors.”
Mailu also called on other doctors who might have left the Government for private hospitals but lost jobs to come back.
Ms Koros assured that operations were resuming well at the hospital.
“We are happy that our doctors are back and ready to work. Our patients who had left are also coming back to resume treatment. Everything is back to normal at the hospital,” she said.
Mailu regretted that the doctors’ strike had reversed many gains in the health sector as well as causing many Kenyans a lot of suffering.
“The urgency with which patients are returning to the hospital shows that they have suffered a lot during the strike,” he said.
Mailu revealed he visited Cuba and found doctors who are qualified, saying the country is also in a position to work with Cuban doctors.
Doctors being hired will work both at the national and county governments as well as faith-based facilities.
Last week, a statement from Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli’s office revealed Kenya was determined to keep its word on importing doctors after a revelation that some 500 Tanzanian doctors could be on their way to the country.
According to the statement signed by Tanzanian State House Communication Director Gerson Msigwa, the deal was reached after detailed talks with Mailu.