What you need to know:
- Union says 1,200 doctors completed internship in 2017 but are yet to secure jobs.
- Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman ordered to remain in Cuba until he signs critical deal.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union is demanding the recruitment of more than 1,200 local doctors before importation of medics from Cuba.
On Saturday, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman said Kenya had struck an agreement to bring in 100 medical specialists, with each county getting at least two.
He added that Kenya would also send 50 doctors to Cuba for specialised training.
However, KMPPDU Deputy Secretary-General Chibanzi Mwachonda said the government must employ jobless Kenyan doctors before importing medics from the Caribbean nation.
Dr Mwachonda appealed to governors and President Uhuru Kenyatta to recruit more doctors for the country to achieve universal healthcare.
“There is a serious shortage of doctors. The decision by the government to bring doctors from Cuba should take into consideration the more than 1,200 unemployed local doctors,” Dr Mwachonda said.
He said the doctors completed internship in May 2017 but had not been unemployed.
“This is due to what the national government is calling a devolved function, while county governments insist they have no funds despite staff shortages. We are not opposed to the government’s plan,” he told the Nation.
Dr Mwachonda said doctors supported the President’s universal health coverage programme.
“There are consultants out of employment. They went for specialist training before devolution but the national government and devolved governments have refused to deploy them to counties,” Dr Mwachonda said.
“If the government wants to hire foreign doctors, Kenyan-trained ones should also be employed. It is the mandate of the government to create employment for citizens."
The doctors concerns come a day after the government agreed to accelerate a health pact it signed with Cuba in 2017, by importing doctors from the Caribbean nation to fill shortage in counties.
President Kenyatta is pulling all the levers to ensure success of the health pillar of his Big Four Agenda.
Kenya would also work with Cuba on research projects, develop training for primary healthcare workers and collaborate to train specialists in genetic engineering and biotechnology.
“The time lines are, as soon as possible,” said Health Chief Administrative Secretary, who is part of Mr Kenyatta's delegation.
Cuban doctors will need to be cleared by the Kenya Medical and Dentists Practitioners Board but governors Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu) and Mohamud Mohamed Ali (Marsabit), who are also in the delegation supported the deal, saying they expected no problems.
Prof Nyong’o, who was in Cuba twice when he was Health minister and had been party to health agreements that were never implemented, said he wanted to see swift implementation of the deal "because health is the epicentre of a growing Kenya".
President Kenyatta has told Mr Aman to remain in Cuba until he delivered on critical results — an agreement with extensive detail on bilateral cooperation.