Kenya: Cuban Doctors Expected to Arrive Monday

Cuban doctors arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International airport.

Cuban doctors hired by Kenya are expected to arrive in the country Monday, even as the controversy over their pay rages.

The Health ministry refused to divulge the details of their arrival.

At the same time, a doctor has filed a case in court seeking to stop the licensing of the Cubans to practise in Kenya.

Dr Samson Robert Misango argues that there is no evidence that the country lacks doctors to fill vacancies in the public health system.

DISAPPOINTMENT

Unemployed doctors have also expressed their disappointment with the decision to hire Cubans in the civil service Job group S.

Dr Francis Thuku, a maxillofacial surgeon, has been unemployed since completing his residency at the Kenyatta National Hospital in 2016.

"I have sent many applications to county public service boards," Dr Thuku said yesterday, adding that he hopes to secure a job in Kitui County.

Should that happen, Dr Thuku will start from Job group Q, with a monthly salary ranging between Sh280,000 and Sh300,000.

He said that locally trained surgeons "are just as professional as the Cubans.

GROUP M

"It is hypocritical and unfair to employ expatriates and give them higher salaries. It hurts," he said.

Dr Serem Kiprop, a general practitioner, who graduated in 2016, said he hoped to start working at Job Group M. This entitles him to a maximum monthly pay of Sh150,000.

"County governments say they cannot employ us since they lack money. For their part, private hospitals insist on two years experience," Dr Serem said.

At the same time, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union has criticised the plan to hire Cubans.

According to KMPDU Secretary-General Ouma Oluga, the foreign doctors' deal is much better than the one they signed with the government last year.

LOCAL SPECIALISTS

"Our specialists should have been placed in Job Groups S and T, but they have been put in M, N and P. This is discrimination," Dr Oluga said.

He criticised the government's unwillingness to employ 171 local specialists.

"The same government that told us it lacks the money is hiring 100 specialists at a higher salary. We wonder where these funds to pay the doctors came from," he said.

Meanwhile, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki dismissed social media reports that the government will be spending nearly Sh2 billion annually on the Cuban doctors.

She added that Thailand would also send experts to assist in the implementation of the universal health coverage.

BENEFIT PACKAGE

The minister said Thailand, would provide technical and training expertise to Kenya to enable the country achieve its health objectives.

Ms Kariuki said Thai Minister of Health Piyasakol Sakonsatayathon would send experts to support local teams in designing the UHC benefit package for Kenyans.

"Among the areas the Thai team will tackle is the review of our institutional architecture," Ms Kariuki said at the end of the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

The CS added that the Asian country had provided training opportunities for Kenyan doctors in the programme.

TECHNICAL SUPPORT

"Thailand offered internship opportunities and scholarships for health experts," she said.

The minister added that World Health Organisation Director General Tedros Adhanom had pledged to provide technical and financial support for the designing of an effective community health strategy.

She said that the Thai experience had shown that increasing the allocation of resources to the health sector while the ensuring utilisation of available resources, is important.

Kenyans doctors have termed the government's move to employ Cuban doctors to streamline the country's health sector "a mega-scam" that will soon blow up and shock the country.

STANDARDS

Speaking to Citizen TV on Sunday night, the union's Secretary General Dr Ouma Oluga said that the whole process was shrouded in secrecy, thus casting doubts on its effectiveness.

"We welcome the doctors, as our colleagues, though we still need an explanation on the standard employment procedures that were used to hire them. What standard was used to determine their salaries, whether they were subjected to basic interviews by the Public Service Commission among other requirements," said Dr Oluga.

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