Why KMPDU wants Kenya - Cuba doctors exchange program stopped

Why KMPDU wants Kenya - Cuba doctors exchange program stopped

KMPDU Secretary General Dr. Davji Atellah, accompanied by other union officials, when he appeared before the Senate Health Committee on March 21, 2023.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) now says 50 Kenyan doctors in Cuba are living in deplorable conditions, pushing for the exchange program between the two countries to be brought to a halt.

This after Kenya signed a health agreement with Cuba in 2017 which saw an exchange program where Cuban doctors would come into the country to help fill gaps in county hospitals.

From Kenya as well, at least 50 local health practitioners were put on a flight to the Caribbean’s largest island for specialized training.

KMPDU Secretary General Dr. Davji Bhimji Atellah, speaking while appearing before the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday, however termed the deal as a “waste of human resources.”

According to Dr. Atellah, the scope of practicing medicine in both countries is worlds apart, hence the exchange program was unreasonable as there were numerous factors that would come into play.

“After the training in Cuba, they still came back to Kenya and had to be subjected to two years of training in Kenya so that they could be cleared by the medical council to practice as family doctors. The scope of family medicine practice in Kenya is different from the Cuban scope hence the need to train the doctors to acquire skills that would enable them practice in Kenya,” he said.

“The Cuban doctors who came to practice in Kenya also experienced some challenges. The expectation was different. A family doctor trained in Kenya is able to perform emergency obstetric and gynecological surgeries as well as surgical emergencies. The Cuban family doctors are not able to do surgeries as this skill is not part of their training,”

Dr. Atellah added that the union now wants the exchange program stopped and an audit done showing the cost benefit analysis.

He stated that Cuban doctors who were brought to the country were remunerated better at the expense of their Kenyan counterparts, whom he said offered better services.

To add on to this, the foreign medics also needed Kenyan clinicians to accompany them during their duties due to the aspect of language barrier.

“This was a waste of human resources. They were being housed by the counties, paid triple Kenyan doctor salaries and given a driver and security discriminatively against the Kenyan doctors offering better services,” said the KMPDU boss.

“Currently the Cuban doctors are at the Kenya School of Government at the expense of the taxpayer's money instead of being in hospitals. There are around more than 100 unemployed Kenyan family physicians who can be utilized to promote the primary healthcare agenda.”

He hence stated that they, as a union, have since resolved to advocate for the non-renewal of the contract between Kenya and Cuba once the existing one lapses in June 2023.

KMPDU further wants the national government to first employ all presently unemployed Kenyan doctors before importing any foreign doctors.


KMPDU Cuban doctors Dr. Davji Atellah

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