uproar over Cuban doctor importation

Uproar over Cuban doctor importation

cuban doctors in Venezuela

The governments’ decision (all 48 of them) to bring into the country 100 medical specialists from the Republic of Cuba has spiked vigorous debate all over the country. The idea has been floating around the nation for quite some time now and it appears as though most people thought it would just go away eventually. However, this has not been the case since the ministry of health signed an MOU with the county governments earlier this month putting into action the said idea.

Cuba, despite being a very poor country, has a thriving health sector and its government insists and focuses on preventive rather than curative medicine. Kenya is not the first or the only country to import medical expertise from the western nation. Developing South American nations including Brazil and Peru and even Venezuela have in past years relied on Cuba to provide them with the required medical human resource. Perhaps this is one of the strategies by president Kenyatta and his government to realize better health care as is in his big 4 agenda. But will it work? Is this the solution to all our health problems?

Despite this appearing to be great news to the medical fraternity in the country, the news has not been taken very well. Medical doctors in the country feel as if they have been taken for granted, they say they were never consulted on this matter and some even blame the government for having misplaced priorities and lacking strategic plans. The government on the other hand, has urged doctors not to feel intimidated and to work hand in hand with the Cuban doctors. Medics are however having none of that.

Cuban doctors arriving in the country

The CS of health in Kenya, Sicily Kariuki, backed by governors and other government officials has insisted despite protests from Kenyan doctors that this is the right move. speaking on citizen TV on 27th of May, Dr. Ouma Oluga of the KMPDU tearmed the move as stupid. He differed with the CS’s augument that they were bringing family medicine specialists saying,”Kenya has a well established family medicine curriculum in 5 universities: Moi university, Maseno university, Egerton university and Kenyatta university.”

Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists' Union secretary general Dr Ouma Oluga.
Dr. Ouma Oluga, KMPDU secretary general

Dr. Ouma maintained that it was a stupid move to bring Cuban doctors into the country. He explained that we do not need Cuban doctors to help in preventing malaria since we have one of the best systems in the world for malaria. In fact, Kenya played the biggest role in the successful rolling out of the malaria vaccine.

There are more than 1,000 specialized doctors in the country distributed all across the nation. About half of these are employed by universities as lecturing staff for medical students. These are the once depended on the most by the teaching an referral hospitals in the country including KNH, MTRH, and JOOTRH. Activities in these hospitals have, in fact, been on a go slow during the lecturers strike. 90% of all specialists in the country have private clinics and are contracted in private hospitals. Very few are indeed employed as hospital consultants in public hospitals.

Cuban doctors being recieved at the airport

The Cuban doctors will be in job group S according to the health CS, Sicily Kariuki and will be pocketing a monthly salary of Ksh. 800,000. This is even more than the amount paid to members of parliament and senators. They will also be provided with houses and transport to their places of work. they will be simply living in a Kenyan paradise. There are 100 of them distributed in all the 47 counties, the basis of which I do not know. This is inspite if the over 1600 unemployed Kenyan doctors.

One of the practitioners theDoctor spoke to earlier even joked (threatened) to leave the entire ward to the Cuban doctors because the government thinks they know better. The debate has been ongoing on all media platforms with majority of the people holding the opinion that this was a wrong move. Some are questioning the ministry on the performance of the incoming doctors without the necessary technology and medical equipment and the fact that there is a big difference in the disease prevalence between the two countries. According to the KMPDU leadership, there are many unemployed doctors in the country who should have been given first priority. There are also a good number of trained Kenyan medical doctors working abroad and in NGOs and who would be glad to work for the government again if such an offer as the Cuban one is given to them.

Since the government of the day has maintained its position and the Cubans are expected in the country from 1st of June, all we can do is wait and see. How will they perform without equipment? How will they communicate with patients who do not understand English? How will they react and manage tropical diseases? Will they go on strike too and demand that the hospitals they have been posted to provide a better working environment? Will they be the ones to open our leaders’ eyes to the issues local doctors have been complaining about all along? Or will this whole thing melt down to yet another corruption scandal? Let us wait and see.

county distribution of Cuban specialists



by Nyadimu Festo

Nyadimu Festo MD

Medical Doctor. MBChB with IT (Maseno university). Passionate about medicine, writing and leadership. Voice of the Kenyan doctor.


  • […] The Swahili say, “hayawi hayawi hua!” to mean what you thought might never happen will eventually happen. That has been the case with Kenya and its much anticipated Cuban doctors. The Kenyan doctor family led by their secretary general, Dr. Ouma Oluga have been up and about trying to fight the system to prevent the importation of the Cubans. They even moved to court through one of the most vocal of doctors in the country Dr. Samson Misango. But the case was dismissed and finally, the highly trained, well experienced, Spanish speaking doctors have been dispatched to their respective counties of work. […]


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