KENYA — Kisumu County is currently in discussions to establish a County-Cuban arrangement aimed at sustaining the invaluable services of three Cuban doctors currently serving at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH).
The trio, consisting of an oncologist, a dermatologist, and a cardiologist, has played a pivotal role in delivering exceptional healthcare services, leaving a notable impact on the health and well-being of the local community.
During a farewell dinner party organized for the departing doctors, Kisumu County Governor Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o commended the Cuban doctors for their outstanding skills, unwavering commitment, and compassionate service.
The Governor stressed the critical need to continue benefiting from their expertise, particularly in light of the escalating prevalence of cancer cases in Kenya.
Expressing concern over the Ministry of Health’s decision to withdraw the Cuban doctors due to budgetary constraints, Governor Nyong’o emphasized the importance of a comprehensive evaluation of the positive impact these specialists had made on healthcare delivery.
Governor Nyong’o questioned the rationale behind the sudden withdrawal of the Cuban doctors and advocated for a more thorough assessment of the benefits they brought to the healthcare system.
He argued against making such crucial decisions based solely on budgetary considerations, suggesting that alternative funding sources could be explored to ensure the uninterrupted provision of essential healthcare services to the local population.
The farewell dinner, attended by the three doctors, County Executive Committee Member for Medical Services Dr. Gregory Ganda, JOOTRH’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. George Rae, and other key officials, became an opportunity to formally recognize and appreciate the exceptional contributions of the Cuban doctors.
In acknowledgment of their outstanding clinical achievements, Governor Nyong’o presented plaques and traditional stools to the departing doctors, expressing gratitude for their tireless efforts.
Dr. Yuri, one of the departing doctors, expressed deep appreciation for Governor Nyong’o’s advocacy and emphasized the unique experience of serving in Kisumu.
The doctors, grateful for the Governor’s support, highlighted that their presence in Kenya was initiated by his efforts, underscoring the positive impact they were able to make during their tenure.
The decision to withdraw the Cuban doctors comes on the heels of an announcement by Health Cabinet Secretary Wafula Nakhumicha that Kenya would not be renewing their contracts.
While the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU) supported the government’s decision, Governor Nyong’o raised legitimate concerns about the challenges associated with promptly replacing the Cuban doctors.
He urged the national government to reconsider the withdrawal, emphasizing the potential adverse impact on key health service provisions in county hospitals.
In 2018, former President Uhuru Kenyatta initiated a landmark deal with the Cuban government, resulting in the hiring of 100 Cuban doctors to provide healthcare services in Kenyan hospitals.
The Cuban doctors have since played crucial roles, especially in specialized fields such as oncology, dermatology, and cardiology, significantly contributing to the enhancement of healthcare delivery in the region.