TAKING SHAPE

Cuban doctors perform 5,000 major surgeries in 18 months

The 101 expatriates have carried out more than 48,000 routine procedures

In Summary

• The doctors were contracted in July 2018 for 24 months to bridge the gap in the provision of specialised services.

• The latest ministry report does not mention the fate of Cuban medics abducted and ferried to Somalia by al Shabaab in April last year. 

Two of the Cuban doctors with a patient at the Mandera county referral hospital in February, 2019.
AT HOME: Two of the Cuban doctors with a patient at the Mandera county referral hospital in February, 2019.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

 

Cuban doctors have conducted 5,000 major surgeries since they were deployed in Kenya 18 months ago, a recently released report shows. 

The 101 doctors were contracted in July 2018 for 24 months to bridge the gap in the provision of specialised services.

The Ministry of Health report shows they conducted 3,000 minor operations in the same period. 

"The 101 Cuban doctors we engaged to offer specialised health services for a period of two years have so far carried out over 48,000 routine procedures, 3,000 minor surgeries, 5,000 major surgeries, and 1,000 outreach sessions," the document says.

It does not mention the fate of Assel Herrera and Landy Rodriguez, who were abducted and taken to Somalia by al Shabaab terrorists on April 12, last year. 

A ministry official said this was being handled as a security issue by the ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs. 

Cuban Council of Ministers vice-president Ines Maria Chapman had on December 17 said the abducted doctors "are well."

She told  Radio France International: "The Kenyan authorities affirmed that both doctors, Assel Herrera and Landy Rodriguez, are well and they will continue their efforts, as well as those carried out by our country, for their safe return to Cuba."  

A top Kenyan government official said in May the gunmen had demanded Sh150 billion for their release.

"Our people can be sure that the Cuban government, like the government of Kenya, is making huge efforts, paying special attention to this issue," Chapman added.

The Cuban expatriates were distributed countrywide, but those in Garissa, Wajir, Lamu and Tana River were later recalled and deployed to safer counties.

Their 49 Kenyan counterparts are taking a postgraduate course on Family Medicine in Cuba on full government sponsorship under the exchange programme.

The ministry further said that this year, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya, Vihiga, Kakamega, Bungoma, Migori, and Busia counties will benefit from a joint malaria elimination project. Cuba eliminated the disease in 1973.

"Biolavicides (biological pesticides) and technical services will be provided with the aim of reducing cases of malaria," the ministry said.

The current Cuban team comprises cardiologists, orthopaedic surgeons, plastic reconstructive surgeons, nephrologists, urologists, a neurosurgeon, endocrinologists and family health specialists.

Kenya has only about 4,000 practising doctors and faces a shortage of about 40,000 according to the World Health Organisation.

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board says by 2018 there were 1,019 foreign doctors licensed to work in Kenya.

Some 358 of them were American, mostly working in mission hospitals. 

The second highest group is from India. Most of this lot work at Mediheal Diagnostic and Fertility Centre owned by Kessess MP Swarrup Mishra. The MP  is also deputy chair of the National Assembly health committee.

Congo has the third highest number.