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BY KORIR JUMA,NAIROBI,27TH APRIL 2018-The government has sealed an agreement with Cuban doctors that will see them offer expertise in diffrent medical felds in the country.Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki  on FRiday  signed the contract to bring 100 Cuban medical specialists to Kenya.

Ms Kariuki, who signed the contract on her current trip to Havana, Cuba, said 50 Kenyan doctors will also travel to Cuba for specialised training, mostly on family medicine.

The Heath CS said the deployment of the doctors to rural areas will help improve access to specialist medical services and reduce dependency referral hospitals.

Ms Kariuki CS said the contracted medics will help in the transfer of knowledge at the rural level.

Earlier this week, the Head of the Presidential Delivery Unit Nzioka Waita said the government move is meant to improve public health sector performance in specialties including ontology, nephrology and dermatology.

“Specialists in these areas are few and far between, yet their services are in high demand,” Mr Nzioka said.

“Our doctor-to-patient ratio remains one 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.”

The World Health Organisation’s recommended staffing ratio is 23 health workers for every 10,000 people.

The government has ignored objections from the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) and Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPPDU) over the Cuban doctors’ deal.

KMPPDU secretary-general Ouma Oluga has asked the Health ministry on previous occasions to employ the more than 1,000 “unemployed local doctors” before flying in the Cubans.

On his part, KMA secretary-general Prof Lukoye Atwoli said in Mombasa last week thatimporting 100 Cuban doctors would deny local experts jobs.

Contacted for comment over the latest development, Dr Oluga, who is attending the devolution conference in Kakamega, declined to issue a statement, saying the union was yet to meet to deliberate on the ministry’s move.

“We shall be having a union National Executive Council meeting on Saturday, and among the issues scheduled to be discussed is the action by the government. I will issue a comprehensive response representing the union’s position after the meeting,” said Dr Oluga.

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers chairperson Mr Peter Wachira also added his voice to the medics’ disapproval, saying the government needed to consult widely with the medical fraternity and other stakeholders before effecting the move.

President Uhuru Kenyatta sanctioned the bilateral agreement allowing Cuban doctors to work in Kenya during a recent visit to Cuba.

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