Despite long hours, abducted doctors were set for early surgeries
SEE ALSO :CS seeks weekly reports on Cuban doctorsThe Cuban surgeon consulted with his team to ensure the scalpels, gloves and medication they were to use to operate on a patient who was booked with acute appendicitis had been put in order. Then, he waved and said “Kwaheri” in his shaky Swahili and together with his other colleague, Dr Correa, they called it a day. They had worked for more than 10 hours, as was typical in the only referral hospital in Mandera County. They drove off with their bodyguard Constable Katambo Ngala to their home a few kilometres from Mandera Governor Ali Roba’s house.
SEE ALSO :The unseen war - Part 2“The patients were waiting for them, and some had arrived so early. The Cuban doctors always kept time and handled even the most complex cases,” Mandera Health CEC Mahamud Eda said. At 9am on Friday morning, as they were edging towards the hospital, gunmen believed to be linked to the Al Shabaab terror group, pounced on them.
SEE ALSO :Outrage as Kenyan doctor dies in CubaWitnesses say a group of armed men blocked the road with a saloon car and immediately opened fire. Constable Katambo and another policeman whose identity is yet to be known are said to have attempted to shoot back but were overwhelmed by the bullets being fired at them from different sides. Katambo was felled and the assailants fled with the two Cuban doctors. The other policeman escaped on foot. “One policeman was fatally shot by the attackers, and they then “commandeered the car and the occupants, before crossing the border to Somalia,” Police spokesman Charles Owino said at a press conference. At the hospital, weary patients who had been booked for surgery by Dr Rodriguez were rescheduled. Urgent cases were taken up by the resident surgeon. Patients at the general ward where Dr Correa frequently visited with a stethoscope on his neck asked for him and muttered prayers when news of the abduction was broken.
SEE ALSO :Two Cuban doctors abducted in Mandera“It is a huge loss. The abduction of the doctors hurts the poor people the most since they cannot afford to fly out when they are sick,” says Eda. He says since the doctors arrived in Mandera last year, the surgeon had attended to 3,470 patients while the general practitioner had done more than 4,300 cases. Eda described the doctors as steadfast and cheerful. He recalled an incident where an accident had occurred in Banisa Sub-County and a patient had been brought in critical condition. He had an internal bleeding and was sliding in and out of consciousness. Dr Rodriguez is said to have worked from around midday through to the depth of the night without taking a break. “They were dedicated to saving lives. They never complained,” says Eda.