Business Daily Africa reports that Kenya is now seeking surgeons and medical specialists from Cuba. This comes just a few days after the country sealed a deal to hire 500 general physicians from Tanzania.
By Tuesday this week, in Tanzania, over 150 young doctors had already applied for the recently announced job opportunities in Kenya according to the country’s Health Minister, Ummy Mwalimu. That was 6 days ahead of the deadline for applications on 27th March.
In the latest development, Kenya’s Health Secretary Cleopa Mailu has been quoted by Business Daily as saying that he has been to Cuba—even before the doctors’ strike, as he sought to look for doctors who have already completed their postgraduate training so that they would be hired to work in facilities that have no specialists in Kenya.
The country, which is recovering from a painful doctors’ strike that lasted about 100 days, says it has started preliminary talks with Caribbean island(Cuba) to offer specialized treatment in public hospitals—especially county hospitals–that are reported to be experiencing shortages of medical staff, as top doctors concentrate in the city, Nairobi.
It would be important to note that due to Cuba’s lowest doctor to patient ratio of 1 doctor to 155 patients, it has some 37,000 medics (half who are doctors) working across over 77 countries in government missions, earning the country up to Sh800 billion (USD 8 billion) every year according to Forbes.
Also read: The dilemma of hiring foreign doctors
Cuba is also known for sending health-care workers to countries such as Venezuela and Brazil to spread what it regards as the social achievements of the Castro brothers’ 1959 revolution.
Back in Tanzania, doctors through their Medical Association (MAT), are not in support of the move by their government to “export” 500 doctors in Kenya while most health facilities—at district and regional levels—remain understaffed. They also fear for their colleagues’ safety challenges while in Kenya.
Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu has assured the doctors of guaranteed safety. She has also admitted at a press conference in Dar es Salaam that the country is indeed suffering a serious shortage of doctors but the government has no financial capacity to put on payroll over 2500 doctors who have graduated in medicine for over the past two years.
“We (as a government) are only considering to employ 500 of the doctors in the 2017/18 fiscal year. We need to liaise with the treasury and recruitment secretariat on this. The problem is with the government’s wage bill. It has reached a maximum point where the government can’t accommodate more on payroll,’’ Ms Mwalimu told reporters at her offices in Dar es Salaam.
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