Kenyan medics protest employment of Cuban doctors

KMPDU Secretary General Davji Atella flanked by other union members in Senate on Tuesday, March 21. [Twitter, KMPDU]

Doctors in Kenya say a partnership that was signed by Kenya and Cuba in 2017 should not be renewed come June 2023.

In the partnership, Cuban doctors would come into the country to help fill gaps in county hospitals while Kenyan doctors were to be sent to Cuba for specialized training.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) is now opposing the agreement that was approved by the Ministry of Health.

In a statement, KMPDU Secretary General Davji Atella says there was no need of taking Kenyan doctors to study in Cuba. He argues that the scope of family medicine in Kenya is different from the Cuban scope, hence, the exchange program is unnecessary.

"After Kenyan doctors train in Cuba, they still come back to Kenya and have to undergo two years of training in Kenya so that they can be cleared by the medical council to practise as family doctors," said Atella.

"The scope of family medicine in Kenya is different from the Cuban scope hence the need to train doctors to acquire skills that can enable them to practise in Kenya," he added.

Atella further observed that Cuban doctors who had been posted in Kenya were also experiencing challenges.

"The Cuban family doctors are not able to do surgeries as this skill is not part of their training. There is also the aspect of language barrier where a clinician has to be in a clinic with them so that they can communicate to the patients. This is a waste of human resources," said Atella.

"The Cuban doctors who came to practise in Kenya also experienced some challenges. The expectation was different. A family doctor trained in Kenya is able to perform emergency obstetric and gynaecological surgeries as well as surgical emergencies."

Atella advocates employing Kenyan doctors before foreign doctors can be considered for the opportunities.

"There are around more than 100 unemployed Kenyan family physicians who can be utilised to promote the primary health care agenda," he said.