21 March 2019

Kenya: Family Wants Dr Hamisi Juma's Postmortem Report

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The family of a Kenyan doctor who allegedly committed suicide in Cuba is yet to receive a postmortem report.

"The [postmortem] report has not been shared with the family, we are still in the dark. We are very frustrated, but we will soldier on. Our brother will be buried in Likoni," a relative who sought anonymity told Nation.

Dr Juma was undertaking postgraduate diploma course in family medicine in Cuba. His body will arrive in Mombasa on Friday from the Caribbean country for burial according to Islamic customs.

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

Kenyan doctors have started a hashtag #bringbackourdoctors on twitter to compel the government to repatriate their colleagues.

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

INVESTIGATIONS

"Our colleague's body is leaving Havana today (Thursday) to arrive in Moi International Airport in Mombasa on Friday," Dr Mwachonda said.

But in her tweet, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said she had dispatched a team to Cuba.

"Held a meeting with the Cuban Ambassador to Kenya, Ernesto Gomez Diaz on the circumstances pertaining to the death of Dr Hamisi Ali Juma in Cuba. I have dispatched a team from the ministry of health to facilitate ongoing investigations in Havana," Ms Kariuki said.

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

Dr Oluga accused the Kenyan embassy of exhibiting high-handedness.

ROYAL TREATMENT

"It is ironical how Cuban doctors in Kenya receive royal treatment with chauffeured transport funded by taxpayers' money," Dr Oluga added.

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

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

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.

The doctor was to embark on a journey back to meet his wife and eight-month-old baby in Kenya when news broke that he had allegedly committed suicide.

The doctor, who was in his mid-30s, was married to Dr Zeyana Rasul.

SUICIDE

She was expecting to receive her husband only to receive the sad news about his demise.

Dr Mwachonda said the cost of living in Cuba is high compared to Kenya. He said that doctors' monthly allowances were slashed from Sh144,000 to Sh36,000.

"They are living at a central place which is very far from where train," he said.

The union alleges that Kenyans were warned against opting out of the programme.

"They were warned of dire consequences if they opted out, the consequences included disciplinary action and recovery of money paid for the programme," Dr Mwachonda added.

Kenya sent 50 doctors to Cuba as part of an exchange programme aimed at improving services provided locally.

In May 2018, Health Principal Secretary Peter Tum reiterated the government's commitment to making health care accessible to all.

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