Cuban doctors who are to be deployed in counties have already started training in Cuba’s capital, Havana.
According to reports by Cuban newspaper 14ymedio, 100 doctors are attending classes to learn English, Kenyan public health system and local culture in preparation for their new assignments in the 47 counties where they will be posted.
Reports indicate that although the doctors have not been told how much they will earn or exact date of their departure, they have been undergoing intense training at the Central Medical Cooperation Unit in Cuba.
Insiders speculate that the doctors could land here as early as next month. But the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPDU) and Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) said they were not aware of the training.
They said they have not been briefed on who the doctors are, how they are being trained, and when they will arrive.
KMPDU said there are more than 1,000 unemployed doctors and Kenya does not need medics from outside. They have often raised concerns on the state of health centres and lack of facilities as the main hindrance to better health care. The Ministry of Health maintains that they will only bring in specialists to boost health systems in counties.
“Counties are in dire need of specialists. The Cuban doctors will be in the country on a two-year contract,” Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said in a previous interview.
Through their secretary general, Dr Ouma Ouga, KMPDU said they were not consulted from the onset, and that it will be difficult for the Cuban doctors to work in Kenya without its members inducting them in the hospitals.
“We are not a part of it. Who will show them around, and help them around hospitals?” asked Dr Oluga.
However, the constant internal wrangles have not dampened the Cuban doctors on their new roles.
“They are very happy. Some are privately learning Swahili. To them, working in Kenya is an upgrade,” said a relative to one doctor undergoing training.
Daniel Yumbya CEO of KMPDB told Saturday Standard that information on the deal is still scanty, but as soon as they have all details, they will brief Kenyans on their position.
According to Cap 253 of the Laws of Kenya, KMPDB is mandated to regulate the practice of medicine and dentistry, and they accredit all doctors.
Insiders in Cuba revealed that the average salary of Cuban doctors is about Sh6,000 per month, in contrast to at least Sh100,000 a Kenyan doctor takes home monthly. Even with their centralised economy that regulates prices of goods and services, Cuban doctors have in the past complained about remuneration in their country, and have often taken up assignments in foreign countries. Their fate now lies in the hands of implementers of the deal initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta when he visited Cuba in March.