Union opposes State move to import doctors from Cuba

Doctors recite the Hippocratic Oath before the official opening of a Kenya Medical Association annual conference in Nyali last month. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Doctors recite the Hippocratic Oath before the official opening of a Kenya Medical Association annual conference in Nyali last month. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) on Thursday hit out at the government’s decision to import Cuban doctors who are not known to practice medicine according to international standards.

KMPDU secretary- general Ouma Oluga also criticised the Medical Practitioners and Dentists’ Board for failing to conduct peer review of the Cuban doctors and properly advice the Ministry of Health on the merits of importing them.

Dr Oluga told the National Assembly’s Health Committee that board members who went to Cuba to assess the qualifications of the Cuban doctors did not administer medical qualification examination that meets Kenya’s acceptability criteria.

He said the board needed to independently assesses every doctor before granting licences to practise in Kenya – an exercise he insisted could not have been done by next month.

“The process of peer review has two aspects, the first being practical where a fellow doctor in the same field observes your work and deciphers whether you are competent. The second bit involves three standard exams, which must administered to them -- a process that takes between six months and one year,” he said.


Dr Oluga said there are 171 specialists spread across the same disciplines as the Cuban doctors, who graduated since February last year and have not been employed.

“The same government is saying they don’t have money to absorb 171 specialists trained by taxpayers’ money for six years and then turn around and spend even more to bring in doctors from outside,” he said, even as he insisted that the association has no problem with their Cuban colleagues but maintained Kenya does not need them.

“The process was hasty, devoid of any stakeholder engagement and we will work hard to keep the government accountable as the doctors’ union. We are still awaiting our involvement in the deal,” he said.

The 100 specialists will arrive next month despite opposition from the doctors. Plans are also under way to send 50 Kenyan doctors to Cuba for training.

The Cuban specialists comprise of nine critical care physicians, three cardiologists, five orthopaedic surgeons, three plastic surgeons, five nephrologists, three urologists, one neurosurgeon, two endocrinologists and 53 family physicians.

On Wednesday, the Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said in a statement that the criteria of narrowing down on the 100 was based on the gaps existing in Kenya. A major criterion, she said, was specialists to utilise the Sh38 billion worth of Managed Service Equipment (MES) in the counties.

“In addition, Cuban government will support the Kenya Medical Training College to develop local programmes for training community health workers, clinical officers and nurses in family medicine to strengthen primary health care,” she said.