Kenya and Cuba in deal to boost specialised healthcare

Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu during a forum in Nairobi on April 24, 2017. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG
Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu during a forum in Nairobi on April 24, 2017. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG 

Kenya has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Cuba to enhance the country's capacity in specialised areas such as biotechnology, cancer care (oncology), kidney care (nephrology), critical care, cardiovascular surgery and drug manufacturing.

The deal, inked on Tuesday at the sidelines of the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva, will also see the two countries collaborate on pharmaceuticals as Cuba mulls setting up shop in Kenya.

The South American country has expressed interest in the manufacture of anti-retroviral medicine (ARVs), anti-malarial drugs, vaccines, medical gases and equipment.

Kenya was represented by Secretary for Health Dr Cleopa Mailu and Cuba by Minister for Public Health, Dr Roberto Morales.

The MoU also proposes collaboration by exchange of health specialists to enable the transfer of skills and capacity building of Kenya's health sector.


At the height of the 100-days doctors’ strike, Dr Mailu says the government had sought surgeons and medical specialists from Cuba.

“I have been to Cuba even before the medics’ strike to look for doctors who have already completed their postgraduate to come here and breach the gap in facilities that do not mainly have specialist doctors,” Dr Mailu had said.

He was in talks to seek specialised care in public hospitals, especially county hospitals that are have specialist shortages as most top doctors are concentrated in Nairobi.

Medical diplomacy

Cuba, renown for its healthcare system and top doctors, has sent many of its medical workers to other countries to generate cash and as part of a unique form of medical diplomacy pioneered by late leader Fidel Castro.

Last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta had announced that the two countries would establish an exchange programme for health workers in a bid improve the quality and affordability of healthcare services in Kenya.

“Cuba has one of the best health models in the world. I believe there is a lot we can share on health,” Mr Kenyatta said.