The Cuban government has released 100 specialised doctors to travel to Kenya for deployment to various hospitals, Health Cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki said Friday.
Speaking after signing the contract in Havana, she said 50 Kenyan doctors will also travel to Cuba to receive specialised training on family medicine. President Uhuru Kenyatta sanctioned the bilateral agreement allowing Cuban specialist doctors to work in Kenya during a recent visit to the Caribbean island nation.
Kariuki said the deployment of the doctors to rural areas will help improve access to specialised medical services and reduce the dependence on the few referral hospitals which cause congestion.
“The deployment of the Cuban doctors will also provide knowledge transfer to doctors at the rural level,” she said adding that Kenyan medical specialists should consider offering their services at the county level rather than concentrating in big cities.
Early this week, Chief of Staff and Head of the Presidential Delivery Unit Nzioka Waita stated that under this partnership with the Cuban, Kenya is bringing in specialists in very complex areas of medicine, including ontology, nephrology and dermatology. “Specialists in these areas are few and far between, yet their services are in high demand,” he said.
“Our doctor-to-patient ratio remains 1 doctor to every 16,000 patients which means we are not anywhere near meeting the ratios required for the provision of quality healthcare to a majority of Kenyans,” said Waita.
In a separate function, the CS held discussions with her Cuban counterparts on the progress made on the collaboration with Cuba on HIV vaccine trials.
At a visit to the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Kariuki also discussed progress made as well on Therapeutic Hepatitis B vaccine and diabetic foot ulcers management as it had been agreed on with the Cuban Health ministry.
Kariuki said a paradigm shift recognising health as an economic rather than a cost driver and shift to promoting and supporting integrated, people-centred services delivered through a primary health care approach, with anticipated efficiencies and synergies, “will yield the greatest dividends as we all strive to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030 for All.”
Focusing on the primary preventive and promotive health approach that is people centred, she said, will bring enormous benefits in terms of longer and more productive lives, higher earnings, and averted health care costs.