• Kenyan taxpayers foot the Cuban doctors' salaries at Sh625,000 per doctor for all the 120 of them.
• In the deal, Cuban doctors came into the country to help fill gaps in county hospitals while Kenyan doctors were sent to Cuba for specialised training.
MPs have joined governors and medical practitioners in calling for the stoppage of a doctors exchange programme between Cuba and Kenya.
The National Assembly Health Committee on Monday said the government should not renew the Cuban doctors’ contracts, saying they have served their purpose and it is now time to leave.
“Their place should be taken by their Kenyan counterparts because their salaries are enough to employ at least three Kenyans doctors,” committee chairman Robert Pukose said.
The Endebess MP said their continued stay in the country has greatly disadvantaged Kenyan doctors trained and yet to be employed.
Pukose was speaking in Mombasa during a meeting with the State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards in the county.
The Cuban doctors have been in the country for six years now after the government in 2017 signed a health agreement with Cuba.
In the deal, Cuban doctors came into the country to help fill gaps in county hospitals while Kenyan doctors were sent to Cuba for specialised training.
The 120 foreign doctors, who have been working under the Universal Health Coverage programme, have each been earning a salary of Sh125,000.
On top of this, for each of the 120 doctors, the Cuban government receives Sh500,000 from the Kenyan government.
This means in total, the Kenyan government pays at least Sh625,000 per Cuban doctor.
In March, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), which has been opposed to the exchange programme, said the 50 Kenyan doctors who went to Cuba for specialised training live in deplorable conditions.
KMPDU secretary general Davji Bhimji Atellah termed the deal a waste of human resources. He argued that the scope of practicing medicine in both countries is worlds apart, hence the exchange programme 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 came mainly to practice family medicine, which focuses more on preventive care than curative care commonly practiced in Kenya.
Attellah in March said a family doctor trained in Kenya is able to perform emergency obstetric and gynaecological surgeries as well as surgical emergencies while the Cuban family doctors are not able to do surgeries as this skill is not part of their training.
The Cuban doctors had initially signed two-year contracts and their mission was to help in areas such as nephrology, radiology, orthopaedics, surgery and neurology.
The then President Uhuru Kenyatta regime extended their contracts.
On Monday, Pukose inquired the whereabouts of the Kenyans doctors who went for an exchange programme in Havana, Cuba.
“In this exchange programme a whole bunch of our doctors went to Cuba for capacity building. Where did they go?” Pukose posed.
On Monday, Webuye East MP Martin Wanyonyi questioned the Cuban doctors’ contribution to the Kenyan health sector.
“What is the economic value of the Cuban doctors to our public health sector to deserve their contracts being renewed,” Wanyonyi posed.
However, Public Health PS Mary Muthoni defended the Cuban doctors, saying they have contributed to improvement of family medicine.
She said when the Cuban doctors landed in the country, Kenya was still crippling with curative more than preventive measures.
“You will remember there was an issue when they arrived that the country was still more curative, championing curative aspects other than preventive,” Muthoni said.
In February, Council of Governors chairperson Anne Waiguru said the Cuban doctors are lying idle in the country, raking in millions of shillings while Kenyan doctors are working day and night and earning meagre pay.
Counties cater to the living expenses of the Cuban doctors because, according to the government, it was at their request that the exchange program was mooted in the first place.