Government cancels contracts of Cuban doctors

The government has terminated contracts for Cuban doctors, six years after signing the health agreement.

Making the announcement, Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Susan Nakhumicha expressed confidence that Kenyan health professionals were as “committed to the cause” as their Cuban counterparts.

“The ministry will not renew the health contract with the Cuban doctors. I believe our own doctors are equally committed to the cause,” the CS said.

While acknowledging the various challenges faced by health workers at national and district levels, the CS said the government has taken steps to ensure that health workers are properly trained and their welfare is taken care of.

“We are aware that health workers at both national and county levels face major challenges in the discharge of their duties.”

“The challenges are many and varied, ranging from training and development, staff welfare and development, performance management and motivation, health worker safety and welfare and staff mobility, including transfers between counties and levels of government. However, despite the challenges, health workers continue to dedicate themselves to serving Kenyans.

Ms Nakhumicha was speaking on Wednesday at the official opening of a two-day Pre-National Dialogue on Human Resources for Health at the Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club in Nairobi.

The event is a precursor to the National Dialogue on Human Resources for Health, which will be held in Kericho County on October 18.

The move to terminate the Cuban doctors’ contracts comes a month after lawmakers joined governors and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KPMDU) in calling for the termination of the agreement between Kenya and Cuba.

The National Assembly Health Committee has said that the Cuban health workers have served their purpose and it is high time they left the country and their contracts should be terminated.

The committee, chaired by Endebess MP Robert Pukose, noted that the continued presence of Cuban health workers in the country, has put Kenyan doctors who would otherwise be employed and earning salaries at a great disadvantage.

The government is estimated to have paid about Sh625,000 to each of the 120 Cuban doctors working under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme.

This is made up of a salary of Sh125,000 and other expenses.

The salaries are a far cry from the plight of 50 Kenyan doctors who have gone to Cuba for specialised training and who, according to KPMDU Secretary general Davji Bhimji Atellah, have to endure deplorable living conditions.

Under the exchange programme signed between Kenya and Cuba in 2017, Cuban medics were to be flown into the country to assist in county hospitals while their Kenyan counterparts went for specialised training.

The CS applauded lawmakers in the National Assembly and Senate for fast-tracking the consideration of three important bills that will revolutionise the country’s health sector.

“As we speak, we have four critical bills in Parliament that are specifically designed to accelerate the attainment of UHC. These are the Social Health Insurance Bill (2023), the Primary Health Care Bill (2023), the Facility Improvement Financing Bill (2023) and the Digital Health Bill (2023),” she said.



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