A hundred medical specialists from Cuba are set to arrive in the country on May 28, about a month earlier than the date previously given by Ministry of Health (MoH) officials.
The medical doctors, specialised in neurology, dermatology and radiology among other specialties, will be distributed across the counties according to health Cabinet Secretary, Sicily Kariuki.
Speaking during the signing of an MOU between the Council of Governors (CoG) and the Ministry of Health to facilitate governing of service provision and their deployment in the counties, CS Kariuki held that the doctors have already been vetted and their fluency in the English language approved.
“The doctors will be operating on a two-pronged approach, of both service delivery and capacity building of our local doctors through mentorship and working alongside the other physicians in our country’s health sector,” said the CS today.
She reiterated that 50 medical officers from Kenya will in September, likewise travel to Cuba for a two-year specialised training on health matters.
Lauding the move, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru - who is the vice-chairperson of the CoG - assured the health ministry of total commitment in ensuring success of the programme.
“We welcome the initiative to boost the country’s medical sector through deployment of Cuban doctors to supplement our local medics and enhance health service delivery across the counties,” said Ms Waiguru.
According to a statement from the Health Ministry, three radiologists will be distributed to Siaya, Nandi and Wajir Counties, nephrologists will be distributed to Taita-Taveta, Migori, Busia, Nyeri and Embu, and five orthopaedic surgeons deployed to Lamu, Garissa, West Pokot, Nyandarua and Homa Bay.
One gastroenterologist and a neurologist will be sent to Mombasa, a dermatologist to Machakos, five general surgeons to Isiolo, Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera and Tana River, and nine critical care physicians deployed to Kwale, Baringo, Kiambu, Nairobi and Makueni.
The statement also indicates that the 100 doctors will be subdivided into two clusters with 47 working as specialists and the remaining 53 as family physicians, deployed across the counties.
The deployment to the counties is expected to ease the number of patients who cram Kenyatta National Hospital and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.
CS Kariuki, in a previous forum, had noted that Kenya is currently grappling with a shortage of up to 42,800 health workers, which stands in Kenya's efforts to achieve universal healthcare.
This, according to the State, necessitated the deal with Cuba to offer medical services as well as train Kenyan health service providers.
Kenya hopes to tap into the island country's famed public healthcare system, which is hailed as among the best in the world.
Local medics, however, have opposed the planned importation of doctors citing remuneration bias and ‘lack of work ethic’ by some foreign doctors.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPPDU) previously said the Ministry of Health should instead hire local doctors before flying in medics from Cuba.