The Ministry of Health has sought clearance from the Attorney-General to more than double the pay of Kenyan doctors in Cuba in the wake of a suicide case linked to hardships in the Central American nation.
Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache on Thursday told the parliamentary committee on health that they have sought approvals to pay the medics a monthly pay of Sh144,000, up from the current Sh50,800.
This will require a review of the legal arrangement that saw the doctors in Cuba receive 25 per cent of the agreed pay, with the State catering for food and medication.
Dr Hamisi Ali Juma committed suicide earlier this week amid reports that local medics are struggling to cope with life in Cuba.
Dr Juma was among the 50 medics who were sponsored by the government to study family medicine under a Memorandum of Understanding between Kenya and Cuba. The deal saw Kenya receive Cuban specialists, who are stationed in county hospitals.
Dr Juma’s death came months after the doctors in Cuba said they felt frustrated and mistreated, citing pay delays and inadequate stipend.
“After they complained that the money was not sufficient given the high cost of living in Cuba the ministry enhanced their pay by 35 percent, which is why they have since the beginning of this year received Sh50,800 a month,” Ms Mochache said.
She added that the doctors now insist on the full pay of Sh144,000, prompting the ministry to seek a review from the Attorney-General following pay caps for Kenyans on State-backed scholarships in foreign nations.
“We have written to the Attorney-General to change the agreement and request for enhanced amount because they are entitled to 25 percent of the Sh144,000,” Ms Mochache said.
In a letter sent to the Kenyan doctors on March 4, 2019, the Health ministry said it would marginally raise payments for January, February and March to Sh50,000, up from Sh36,000 instead of the Sh144,000 a month they had requested.
The doctors had also requested for return tickets every year like their Cuban counterparts in Kenya, but were informed that they were not entitled to it.
“The programme was voluntary and we are not keeping anyone against their will. In fact, there was one of the medics who came to seek treatment in the country and after discussion with her doctor she asked to leave the programme and we terminated her scholarship,” Ms Mochache said.