Kenya: Suicide Claims and How Kenyan Doctor Died in Cuba Hours to Flight Home

The wife of Dr Hamisi Ali Juma, the Kenyan doctor who died in Cuba, was looking forward to welcoming her husband on Tuesday only to receive news that he had allegedly committed suicide.

The father of an eight-month-old baby was to embark on a journey back home and was said to be jovial and looking forward to the trip.

The deceased was one of 50 Kenyan doctors who went to Cuba for training under a partnership programme between the two countries.

He was a brother to Likoni MP Mishi Mboko.

A joint press statement issued by Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho stated that Dr Ali Juma died on Sunday in Havana.

FRUSTRATED MAN

Dr Hassan Ahmad, a relative, claimed that the deceased was a 'frustrated ma'n. He did not elaborate.

The Kenya Medical Practioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) said in a statement that Kenyan doctors studying in Cuba are frustrated and mistreated.

"There are many problems -- non-responsiveness of embassy and the Ministry of Health, stipend cannot sustain daily living, internet costs are astronomical, coercion from all sides you dare not walk out of the programme," deputy secretary-general Dr Chibanzi Mwachonda said.

"We are communicating with our colleagues in Cuba, the welfare of our members is critical to the union. We have visited the bereaved family, what we are aware of is that our colleague was frustrated, he had a wife and a sick child," he said.

POOR WORKING CONDITIONS

The family said the deceased doctor was constantly complaining of poor working conditions in Cuba and at one point he even lodged a formal request to return home but that was never to be.

According to the government deal, the medics were entitled to a Sh36,000 monthly stipend for the two years of study.

The Sh36,000 is just 25 percent of the Sh144,000 they are entitled to as per the Ministry of Public Service 2004 circular on civil servants trainees sponsored to study abroad.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman said the 25 percent was reached at after the deal between Cuba and Kenya showed that the doctors will be given accommodation and food.

At the end of the two years, the government of Kenya would have used Sh215 million in the exchange program.

REPATRIATED

The union now wants all Kenyan doctors in Cuba to be repatriated to study in Kenya. Two weeks ago the doctors wrote a letter to Parliament's Health Committee on the challenges they faced in the Caribbean country. Dr Mwachonda says the government had not responded to the letter.

The Kenyan Embassy in Cuba and the police are piecing together the circumstances that could have led to the death of the doctor.

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