KENYA – Kenya and Cuba have announced an expansion of their strategic medical partnership to improve quality and access to primary health care for Kenyans as well as to enhance cooperation in the health sector.

The two countries signed a health agreement in 2017 that involved a successful exchange programme where Cuban doctors came into the country to help fill gaps in county hospitals while Kenyan doctors were sent to Cuba for specialized training.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and Cuban ambassador to Kenya Juan Manuel Rodriguez recently meet to discuss plans to further expand diplomatic engagement in the health sector for the benefit of the two nations.

The Cuban ambassador confirmed that his government is committed to the full implementation of the bilateral agreements adding that Cuba remains ready to help Kenya train its human capital on available technologies.

The nations have resolved to extend the ongoing collaboration to the field of research, vaccines and pharmaceutical products to further enhance Kenya’s capacity to deal with emerging health challenges.

The meeting comes at a crucial time when the Kenyan government aims to improve and strengthen Kenya’s primary healthcare system as a catalyst to achieving Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC).

Earlier, President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled the UHC national scale-up affirming the government’s commitment to spread its benefits across the country through the development of a focused policy to accelerate its implementation.

The Cabinet Secretary stated that the Ministry of Health has been working towards the provision of affordable health care for all by strengthening health systems particularly public health facilities.

Kenya to hire 12,000 health care workers annually

Meanwhile, health sector stakeholders have decided to increase the number of workers in the country by at least 12,000 annually in an effort to bridge the doctor, nurse and midwife ratio as recommended by the World Health Organization.

The prescribed health worker density ratio is indicated as 23 doctors, nurses and midwives for every 10,000 people but the health workforce ratio in Kenya stands at 13 doctors, nurses, midwives for every 10,000 people.

There is need to conduct a labor market occupational survey in the health sector to identify the number graduating from various institutions, the demand in the labor market and the existing mismatches.

The data will help in the review of training curriculum and provide adequate data that will be used in determining actual health workforce density ratio.

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