The government has urged Kenyan doctors to accept the importation of 100 Cuban medics to improve the health system. Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Sicily Kariuki said the Kenyan medics should not be sent-centred.
The deployment of the Cuban doctors is expected to start from June 1, with each county getting at least two specialists. However, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union is opposed to the importation of foreign doctors. The union instead urges the government to use the money to recruit more than 1,200 jobless Kenyan doctors.
Speaking in Mombasa on Wednesday, the CS urged Kenyan specialists not to be worried about their Cuban counterparts perks insisting the latter are coming in to complement their work.
She said it is not fair to 'weep emotions' around how much the Cuban doctors will be paid "but look at the value addition the imported workers will bring to the sector."
JOB GROUP S
Ms Kariuki revealed that the Cuban specialists will be graded at entry level job group S.
One of the key areas where the doctors' expertise will be focused is management of malaria in Kisumu, Bungoma, Kakamega, Siaya, Homa Bay, Vihiga, Busia and Migori counties - where prevalence of the disease is above 20 per cent. Ms Kariuki said this would be done through a Malaria Vector Control Project.
"They are not getting huge perks. They are specialised doctor. I would tell you getting the private doctors at that level of specialisation is monies that would perhaps be double or three times what we are actually paying," she explained.
Speaking during the National Assembly Health Committee retreat at the Sarova Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa, Ms Kariuki said there is acute shortage of specialist doctors in the country. She said there are only 250 specialists with majority working in urban areas.
"I would want to ask my brothers and sisters not to be worried. Unlike our own who are remaining in the urban centres, the Cuban doctors are willing and would be posted to far flung counties. The ratio that we have of specialised health workers today is very low, it stands at 250," Ms Kariuki said.
She added: "We are in need of additional capacity. These Cuban doctors are not ordinary doctors, so the competition is not there. They are bringing in the experience from Cuba."
The CS reiterated that in countries which have attained Universal Healthcare, Cuba ranks very high.
"We want to use their doctors to help us in understanding the Cuban approach so that we can benchmark and follow on that," she added.
The CS said the retreat will also cover President Uhuru Kenyatta's agenda on Universal Healthcare.
"We are holding the week long retreat to appraise the committee that is responsible on matters health, to share with them challenges that we face," Ms Kariuki said.