Kenya: Medics Probe Kenya-Cuba Doctors Exchange Scheme

The government has sent a team of experts to Cuba to assess a doctors exchange programme and document the challenges trainees in the Caribbean island are facing.

This follows the death of Dr Hamisi Ali Juma, one of the 50 Kenyan doctors sponsored by the government to study family medicine in Cuba in an exchange programme.

There have been reports that the doctors are frustrated and live in deplorable conditions.

"I have today sent a team from the ministry to carry out the assessment of the programme that the doctors are undertaking, and document the challenges in connection with the Kenyan embassy, propose any intervention that is needed," Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said.

"With the comprehensive findings, we will be able to address and clear the air on what has been flying around and speculated on social media. I will be able to give a comprehensive press statement on matters Cuba when my team comes back with the facts," she said.

SKILLS

The team, led by Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Asman, left on Wednesday and will be back in a week. It will present its findings to Ms Kariuki on March 30.

The government, in its efforts to build human resource capacity in health, signed a memorandum of understanding with Cuba for the exchange of specialists for service delivery and skills transfer.

The two countries also agreed to train and mentor doctors in special areas, including family medicine, critical care and oncology.

The Kenyan doctors have been in Cuba for 11 months, and are expected to be there for two more years, at a cost of Sh215 million to the government.

ALLOWANCES

But Kenyan doctors under the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) and the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) have demanded the immediate termination of the programme, saying, it is not benefiting Kenyan doctors.

They want sponsorship given through the five local universities offering family medicine.

KMPDU Secretary-General Fredrick Oluga said the programme has left Kenyan doctors frustrated and vulnerable since the government neither got them proper housing nor pays them the promised allowances.

"Doctors cannot even afford to call their families back home, he said. The doctors in Cuba have also complained that the Kenyan embassy in Cuba does not take their grievances seriously.

Dr Hamisi will be buried in Mombasa on Friday.

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