What you need to know:
- The Kenyan medics complained that most health facilities are grappling with a shortage of medical staff, equipment and infrastructure
- KMPDU has been pushing counties and hospitals managed by the national government to be open to dialogue to avert medics' strikes
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) wants the national government and counties to employ 5,000 medical doctors to bridge an existing gap and boost services.
KMPDU North Rift chairperson Darwin Ambuka said a shortage of the health workers has frustrated access to quality healthcare.
At the annual meeting that brought together doctors from North Rift counties, Dr Ambuka appealed to President William Ruto and Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Namukimcha to prioritise hiring health workers.
“We have more than 5,000 qualified doctors who are unemployed yet as a country, we import doctors from Cuba. We can employ many Kenyan doctors if we decide to replace every single Cuban doctor,” said Dr Ambuka.
“I want to beseech our government not to employ Cuban doctors until we have employed all our local doctors.”
Cuba’s most valuable export is its own healthcare professionals, with the socialist regime allowing the government to collect a portion of the incomes earned by the workers abroad.
Thousands of Cuban doctors work abroad under contracts with Cuban authorities, with neighbouring Uganda importing these doctors as well.
The Kenyan medics also complained that most health facilities are grappling with a shortage of medical staff, equipment and infrastructure.
“As doctors, we are not satisfied with the state of the health care system. What we need is serious intervention to change this,” Dr Ambuka added.
Last year, the Health ministry said the government was working to strengthen the primary healthcare system as a catalyst for achieving universal healthcare.
“Our worry is not those who are still around, but we don’t know what the new regime plans to do about this issue. It is our hope that Kenyan doctors are employed first,” North Rift KMPDU branch secretary Kamonzi Mulei told the Nation.
Most counties in the region, he added, lack adequate staff and it was time the government intervened to support doctors.
“What we are calling for is employment of trained doctors even as we train more. The previous trend is that we import doctors to this country and leave out Kenyan doctors and we must put this to an end,” he said.
KMPDU has been pushing counties and hospitals managed by the national government to be open to dialogue so as to avert perennial industrial action that paralyses health services.
Counties and some hospitals were reluctant to engage and commit to implementing collective bargaining agreements.
“We have not been able to engage because most of the counties were dysfunctional due to the August elections and most of them lacked health county executives. But going forward, we hope to have engagement with the new county executives,” Dr Mulei said.