The deal to bring Cuban doctors to Kenya has officially been finalised.
Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, who is currently in Cuba Friday signed the contract to bring 100 specialised medical doctors, closing the journey that has been wrought with resistance, scandals and threats since last year when the plan was announced.
Members of the Kenya Medical and Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) are also in Cuba doing peer reviews on the doctors.
Details remain sketchy on how much the doctors will be paid, where they will stay and who will take them for orientation when they arrive.
Last week, leaders from different counties raised concerns over the hushed way the Health Ministry was handling the matter.
Nyamira Senator Okong’o O’Mogeni said the doctors may not have facilities to work in, as most county hospitals are not equipped.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentist Union (KMPDU) insists it will not be involved in the process since it was not consulted from the onset, even as the ministry said the doctors will be in the country by July.
“We are not part of the deal. We are meeting our members tomorrow to give our resolution on the matter,” said Dr Ouma Oluga, Secretary General of KMPDU.
CS Kariuki said deployment of the doctors to rural areas will improve access to specialist medical services and reduce dependence on the few referral hospitals.
The CS added that 50 Kenyan doctors will travel to Cuba to receive specialised training, with a focus on family medicine.
Early this week, Chief of Staff and Head of the Presidential Delivery Unit Nzioka Waita said that under this partnership with Cuba, Kenya is bringing in specialists in complex areas of medicine, including ontology, nephrology and dermatology.
“Specialists in these areas are few and far between, yet their services are in high demand,” he said. Despite the wrangles, sources in Cuba said the doctors are excited to be deployed, and are in their last phase of training.
More than 37,000 Cuban nationals are currently working in 77 countries in overseas medical missions.
Their medical knowledge tops their list of exports sought globally, earning their country close to Sh800 billion annually.
However, over the years, there have been emerging conflicts in the arrangement. Last year, at least 150 Cuban doctors working in Brazil filed lawsuits to challenge the arrangement, calling it slave trade.
They were demanding to be treated as independent contractors who earn full salaries, and not as agents of the Cuban State.
Last week, Uganda Medical Association opposed their government’s move to recruit specialists from Cuba.
The Cubans were to be paid Sh135,000 monthly - more than their Ugandan counterparts.
For most Cuban doctors, even though the reception by their host country might not always be friendly, leaving Cuba is a welcome relief.
The average salary of a Cuban doctor in Cuba is Sh6,000 per month, in contrast to at least Sh100,000 a Kenyan doctor earns locally.