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A Cuban doctor waves his national flag after being flagged-off to various counties by President Uhuru Kenyatta at Kemsa headquarters, Nairobi, June 27, 2018. [File, Standard]

At least 97 Cuban medics imported into the country to meet the health human resource gap will continue to work in Kenya after the State extended their stay.

The doctors' contract was renewed following the expiry of their initial two-year deal.

The Health Ministry has not revealed the length of the renewal but according to the news site Menafn, quoting Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, the initial period will be for six months.

"We have renewed the agreement for six months, but we are planning to do it for more years. We are waiting for the Covid-19 pandemic cases to fall so that we can travel to Cuba to have a conversation with the government," Kagwe said.

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CS Mutahi Kagwe wrote to the Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya notifying him of the renewed deal.

Counties are expected to continue meeting their obligations of the deal as per the 2018 Memorandum of Understanding.

This will see counties continue footing the bills for the doctors' accommodation, transport, and other work-related expenses while the National Government pays their salaries.

"This is to notify you that the Ministry has renewed the bilateral agreement between Kenya and the Republic of Cuba on the provision of specialised healthcare services, through the deployment of Cuban doctors," Kagwe said in his letter dated June 12 and received by Oparanya's office yesterday.

It went on: "The continued services of the doctors in the counties is therefore assured."

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Kagwe added that in the renewed period, his office will be reviewing the specialisation mix to respond to the needs of the counties.

100 Cuban doctors –  47 specialists and 53 family physicians – were flown into the country in June 2018 to address human resource challenges that have rocked the public health sector since independence.

The agreement also saw Kenya work with Cuba on collaborative research projects, training for healthcare workers, and collaborations in fields such as genetic engineering and biotech work.

The specialists included radiologists, nephrologists, orthopaedic surgeons, plastic surgeons, and neurologists.

Two doctors were, however, kidnapped a year after their arrival and taken to Somalia.

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The pair, a general practitioner and a surgeon, were abducted on April 12 by suspected Al-Shabaab jihadists in Mandera, near the border with Somalia.

Late last year, a Cuban official said they were "well" and concerted efforts were underway to secure their release. Reports in May 2019 said the gunmen had demanded $1.5 billion for their release.

The kidnapping saw some doctors who were on the border have been relocated closer to Nairobi.

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