19 March 2019

Kenya: KMPDU Demands Termination of Doctors Training Programme in Cuba

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union has called for immediate termination of the doctors training programme in Cuba.

The union, which says the programme has not benefited the health workers, has recommended that the sponsorship be provided in Kenyan universities.

The union was reacting following the death of Dr Hamisi Ali Juma who is alleged to have committed suicide in Cuba due to frustrations.

In a statement, KMPDU Secretary-General Ouma Oluga said that doctors had expressed their frustrations over non-payment of allowances.

"The Kenyan embassy exhibits high-handedness when concerns are raised. It is ironical how Cuban doctors in Kenya receive royal treatment with chauffeured transport and lavish living funded by taxpayers' money," Dr Oluga added.

BURIAL

The relatives and friends of the Kenyan doctor, who died in Cuba, are meeting in Likoni to make his burial arrangements.

Likoni MP Mishi Mboko, who is the doctor's sister, said Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki had assured her that a postmortem would be conducted to ascertain cause of death.

"We do not have the report on the cause of death, we were told a postmortem will be conducted today (Tuesday). The death is a big blow to the health fraternity in Mombasa. We have lost a young ambitious man who has spent his entire life studying. He was in Russia for seven years only to return home before being picked to go to Cuba," Ms Mboko said.

Ms Mboko said two weeks ago, her brother had complained to her about his frustrations in Cuba.

"He said they were poorly paid. In fact, he had decided to come back home for good," Ms Mboko said.

FRUSTRATED

KMPDU Deputy Secretary-General Chibanzi Mwachonda said the Kenyan doctors studying in Cuba were frustrated.

He asked the government to clear the air on the welfare of the doctors.

"Relook at the programme and structures for supporting the doctors in Cuba before sending them back," Dr Mwachonda asked the State.

A letter written by the doctors in Cuba to the Parliamentary Committee on Health seen by the Nation explains the dire situation they medics are going through.

"We, the 50 doctors who went to Cuba to study a Master's of Medicine Degree course in Family Medicine in Havana, Cuba, arrived here on September 24, 2018. We have been having numerous challenges that have gone unanswered by several officers and are calling upon you and your committee to intervene... ," the letter reads in part.

In the letter from Ministry of Health ref no. MOH/IHR/VOL. II (31) dated March 4, 2019, the medics said before they travelled to Cuba, they kept asking the Ministry of Health about the details of the course, accommodation and welfare.

INDUCTION

"But this information was not forthcoming. We even refused to continue with the induction process at Kenya School of Government in Nairobi unless proper information is provided. We were then made to board a plane amid threats... .," read the letter.

It further reads: "We have never received any document giving details on our course until this letter that was sent on of March 4, 2019."

The doctors said the government promised to ensure timely remittance of their allowances.

It also promised to provide accommodation for the doctors by the end of February, but none of the promises were honoured.

STIPENDS

"Our projections of what lies ahead in terms of academic programmes and accommodation seem to be shrouded with uncertainties. Operating from a centralised place to different faculties which are sometimes up-to two hours away is not practical and this makes it very difficult for the programme to continue," stated the letter.

The medics asked the Ministry of Health to give them a written assurance that their full stipends would be paid from March 1 2019.

"The doctors live in unbearable conditions, they share small rooms with no proper ventilation... ," the letter signed by more than 40 Kenyan doctors in Cuba read.

The doctors, who expressed their desire to continue with the programme, said the logistical challenges were no longer tenable.

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