By John Ikani
Kenya’s government, on Wednesday, announced it would not extend a six-year-old agreement that brought Cuban doctors to Kenya, while Kenyan medical practitioners travelled to Cuba for specialized training.
The program faced opposition from Kenya’s primary doctors union, primarily due to the fact that Cuban doctors were earning over twice the salary of their Kenyan counterparts.
Critics argued that these funds could be more effectively used to enhance Kenya’s medical infrastructure and support its own doctors.
Health Minister Nakumicha Wafula made the announcement in Nairobi during a meeting with health industry professionals.
Her decision was met with applause and cheers of approval. Wafula assured that the Ministry would prioritize the well-being of the country’s health workers.
In 2017, a pact was inked, dispatching 50 Kenyans to Cuba for specialized training, while 100 Cuban doctors were stationed in Kenyan county-level hospitals to enhance healthcare services.
This move faced substantial criticism at the time from lawmakers and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union.
They argued that it was a misuse of resources, especially at a time when Kenya grappled with numerous unemployed doctors and specialists.
The union contended that the money spent on the Cuban doctors’ generous salaries could have been better utilized to employ Kenyan doctors or procure medical equipment for local hospitals, which often lacked basic facilities and medications.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission of Kenya disclosed that each Cuban doctor received a monthly salary of approximately $5,300, while local doctors in the same category earned between $1,600 and $2,300.
Also, Cuban doctors enjoyed superior travel and housing allowances.
In Kenya, doctors and nurses frequently resorted to strikes to demand improved compensation and better working conditions.