May BusinessDaily;A Kenyan doctor has filed a petition in court seeking to stop the government from licensing Cuban doctors to practise in local clinics, arguing that the foreign medics were single sourced to the disadvantage of local counterparts.
Samson Robert Misango says in court papers that there has been no evidence that Kenya has a shortage of doctors to fill any vacancies in the public health system. The Ministry of Health has yet to advertise any such vacancies, making their existence questionable.
Cuban medical specialists are set to arrive in Kenya next month and the Health ministry has previously said that a shortage of up to 42,800 health workers stands in Kenya’s journey to realising universal healthcare.
“I am aware that the Cuban doctors are not competitively recruited to confirm local doctors were not available, an action that amounts to discrimination against local medical practitioners, who have been locked out of opportunity,” he says.
The petitioner further argues that the decision to recruit Cuban doctors infringe on Kenyan doctors constitutional rights and medical students, who are denied the right to fairly compete with foreign doctors seeking employment in Kenya.
Cabinet Secretary of Health, Council of Governors, Director of Immigration and the Attorney- General are listed as respondents in the suit.
Dr Misango is seeking orders restraining the respondents from issuing licences and work permits to Cuban doctors or any other foreign medical practitioners pending hearing and determination of the case.
The suit is the latest attempt by Kenyan medics to stall the much hyped recruitment of Cuba neurology, dermatology and radiology specialists, who the government says will be distributed across the counties. The Ministry of Health has signed an MoU with the Council of Governors to facilitate deployment of the Cuban medics to the counties as part of the effort to improve service provision.
The ministry insists that the Cuban doctors have been vetted and their fluency in the English language approved.
The doctors are expected to operate on the twin fronts of service delivery and capacity building of local doctors through mentorship and working partnerships.
Besides, 50 Kenyan medical practitioners are in September expected to travel to Cuba for a two-year specialised training.
A statement from the Health ministry said three radiologists will be distributed to Siaya, Nandi and Wajir counties, while the nephrologists will work in Taita-Taveta, Migori, Busia, Nyeri and Embu, as the five orthopaedic surgeons are deployed to Lamu, Garissa, West Pokot, Nyandarua and Homa Bay.
One gastroenterologist and a neurologist will be sent to Mombasa, a dermatologist to Machakos, five general surgeons to Isiolo, Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera and Tana River, and nine critical care physicians deployed to Kwale, Baringo, Kiambu, Nairobi and Makueni.
The 100 doctors will be subdivided into two clusters of 47 who will work as specialists and the remaining 53 as family physicians deployed across the counties.
Deployment to the counties is expected to ease the number of patients visiting Kenyatta and the Moi referral hospitals for medical care. These, the government says, are the realities that necessitated the controversial deal with Cuba. Kenya hopes to tap into the island country’s famed public healthcare system, which is hailed as among the best in the world, to improve its own.
Local medics have, however, opposed the planned importation of doctors, citing remuneration bias and ‘lack of work ethic’ among some foreign doctors. The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPPDU) has previously said the Ministry of Health should instead hire local doctors before flying in medics from Cuba.