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Economy

State lines up furnished homes, holiday fares for Cuban doctors

HEALTH CS SICILY KARIUKI. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG 
HEALTH CS SICILY KARIUKI. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG  

Cuban doctors will be offered furnished homes, air fares for holidays, paid utilities and transport on top of their salaries in a deal agreed with governors that looks set to upset local medics.

The 100 Cuban doctors, who will arrive in the country on May 28, will work for two years with the Health ministry paying their salaries.

Governors will be expected to provide the specialists with accommodation, furniture, kitchen appliances, kitchen utensils and pay for their utilities like electricity, water and cooking gas.

Counties will also cater for their local transport expenses while government will pay their air fare to and from Cuba when serving their 30 day annual leave.

Anne Waiguru, the deputy chair the Council of Governors (CoG), said yesterday the 53 family physicians and 47 specialists would be “provided with an enabling environment to do their work”.

Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union say the hiring is unethical because there are enough doctors locally.

“There are 2,000 Kenyan doctors that require employment and 170 specialists ... have not been deployed by the Ministry of health,” Ouma Oluga, secretary general KMPDU, told Reuters.

“We do not understand why a government would be creating employment for another country and not their own.”

Kenya’s doctor-to-patient ratio is one to 16,000, according to official data, far below a recommendation of the U.N. World Health Organization of one to 1,000.

The government says doctors in far-flung hospitals lack specialized skills, forcing patients to pay to travel to the capital Nairobi or abroad for treatment.

Each county should get at least two of the Cuban doctors. The Union cites pay bias and lack of proper peer review.

Health secretary Sicily Kariuki, however, said the doctors went through a rigorous preselection and peer review.

“The medical board vetted and found that they are qualified and are able to speak English. They are expected to build capacity of our local team through knowledge transfer and mentorship,” she said.

The Ministry of Health and the CoG did not divulge the Cuban doctors pay. “The thing is county governments only offer what we have been tasked with in the MOU, the rest is done as per the bilateral agreement with the Government of Cuba and the Kenyan government,” said Marsabit governor Mohamed Mohamud.

CS Kariuki said that 50 graduate students will also leave the country for a two-year post graduate training in Cuba.

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