The first batch of Cuban doctors have arrived in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, as controversy continues to swirl over the deal.
The 50 doctors, who are mostly women, were received by Kisumu County Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o and Dr Rashid Aman, chief administrative secretary at the Health Ministry, after arriving on Tuesday night at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The Cubans have come amid controversy surrounding their pay and treatment, including privileges such as furnished apartments, security and transport.
Dr Aman confirmed that the next group of 50 doctors is expected on Thursday evening.
The Health Ministry said the doctors would be taken to the Kenya School of Government for a two-week induction, before being deployed around the country’s 47 counties.
“We will take them through a rigorous programme, introducing them to the country, the system, how things work and the health sector in this country,” said Dr Aman.
The Kenyan government will link them up with local doctors and facilities, hoping they will be able to share their experience.
The Cubans will mentor Kenyan doctors and engage in knowledge exchange, said Dr Aman.
Specialists among the Cuban doctors will include five kidney specialists, known as nephrologists, three radiologists, plastic surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and neurologists.
About 50 Kenyan doctors will be sent to Cuba for specialised training, especially in family medicine, in September, the Health Ministry said.
Over the past 50 years, Cuba has consistently used the export of its doctors as a powerful and far-reaching tool of health diplomacy. It sent its first doctors overseas as far back as 1963, and to date has sent physicians to over 100 countries.
Uganda’s government is also making plans to hire Cuban doctors, due to a shortage of medical specialists on the country. According to the deal, Uganda will hire at least 200 doctors — a move that the doctors union in Uganda is also against.