Dear Uhuru Kenyatta: Kenya doesn’t need doctors from Cuba

Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta
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President Uhuru Kenyatta embarked on a trip to Cuba last week, with an agenda of boosting cooperation in health, sports and culture according to his State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu.

At the conclusion of the visit, various media outlets are reporting that, among others, the following has been agreed on between the two countries:

  • Cuba will send 100 medical specialists to the country with each county getting at least two.
  • Kenya would also send 50 doctors to Cuba for specialised training.

I’m not sure who is advising the president but this is spectacularly unnecessary.

1. Kenya has enough doctors

First, Kenya has many general practitioners and specialists who do not have jobs at this moment and can take up the work that the Cuban doctors are going to take up.

According to Dr. Ouma Oluga, the Secretary General & Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists & Dentists’ Union (KMPDU), Kenya has more than 1,000 doctors who are not employed and have been waiting for deployment since May 2017. There are apparently also specialists who have been waiting for deployment to counties.

2. This specialist doctors problem is artificial one

Some counties have a specialist problem because they are claiming they do not have the money to have doctors in school. You see, for doctors to become specialists they have to proceed for masters. They usually apply for study leave and the county will have to hire another doctor to fill the gap. The The national government normally pays the school fees for the doctors proceeding for the masters and the counties pay their salary. Now counties are refusing to releasing doctors to proceed for masters because, according to them, they don’t have money to pay the extra doctor and the salary for the one proceeding for master’s. They instead chose to refer patients who need specialists to other hospitals.

3. Cuban doctors are not free

We will still need to pay the Cuban doctors and since they are foreign we will pay them top dollar. The same money can be used to sort out the artificial specialist situation in Kenya. I’d feel much better if we supported our own instead of relying on foreigners.

4. It is illegal

It is actually illegal to employ expatriates for jobs where it has been proven that locals can do. The skills that the Cuban doctors are bringing to the table are not unique and Kenyan doctors can do the same.

I understand what the president is trying to do but this is not the way and we have a perfect Kenyan solution without a need to import doctors without any local knowledge.

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