Health CS seeks weekly reports on Cuban doctors

Cuban doctors Dr Jose Manuel Aldana (centre) and his neurosurgeon counterpart Dr Maikel Rodriguez Tamajo are assisted by nurse Monica Kiia to examine a patient at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital’s ICU, in Kisumu on July 05. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]
The medical superintendents of hospitals where Cuban doctors were deployed have been directed to submit weekly reports on the specialists’ progress.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the reports should be submitted every Friday.

The directive, according to the ministry, is informed by revelations that county hospitals are not utilising the doctors, who are specialists in various fields.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman had earlier reported that most of the doctors were assigned to outpatient clinics and were doing consultations.

This going against the intention of the ministry when it entered the government-to-government deal with Cuba on recruiting the 100 doctors. The aim was to have them on the ground and in touch with local communities to ensure prevention of diseases rather than just focusing on treatment.

Ms Kariuki said it was expected that the additional human resource by the Cuban family physicians would enhance Kenya’s capacity to improve its primary healthcare services.

“But it has been observed that the Cuban specialist doctors have not been utilised effectively in most counties,” she said.

Some of the reasons given for their under-utilisation are lack of transport, inadequate medical equipment and inappropriate deployment and supervision by the counties.

According to the deal that saw the doctors jet into the country last year, while the national government pays the Cubans’ salaries, the counties were supposed to provide other amenities, including accommodation and transport.

“A rational deployment, appropriate utilisation and supervision, especially of the Cuban family physicians, will go a long way in addressing the human resource constraints for primary healthcare services as we roll out universal health coverage,” said Kariuki.

She added: “I request that we facilitate the Cuban doctors with the required equipment as well as transport for community health outreaches as a measure to ensure Kenyans benefit from their services.”

When the deal with the Cuban doctors was unveiled, the CS said one of the reasons for going for them was because Kenyan doctors were not willing to work in the interior parts of the country.

The Kenyan doctors had, through their union, said hospitals in the remote parts of the country were not well equipped, yet the ministry expected specialists to work there.

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Cuban doctorsSicily KariukiRashid Aman