KENYA—The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC) has prohibited all international medical graduates from completing internships in Kenya.

This statement comes only three days after the council ordered doctors who want to operate in Kenya to guarantee that they are accredited by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

KMPDC, which is in charge of guaranteeing quality healthcare delivery, will now required that all graduates first complete an internship in their home country.

Foreign-trained medical and dental graduates must now have their documents (undergraduate, postgraduate certificates, and transcripts) certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) as part of their permanent registration with KMPDC, according to the Council.

The directive comes months after the Kenyan government terminated the exchange program with Cuban doctors.

This 2017 agreement between Kenya and Cuba established an engagement program in which Cuban doctors assisted in Kenyan hospitals while Kenyan doctors traveled to Cuba for specialized training.

In October 2023, the agreement with Cuban doctors was not extended by Health CS Susan Nakhumicha who argued that Kenyan medical workers could manage hospital operations while providing high-quality care.

“As a ministry, I am confident that we will have a highly motivated workforce,” the CS stated.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU) has been opposing the exchange initiative for months, claiming that the state was spending too much money to fund it.

Kenyan doctors resented being sidelined, claiming that they were capable of doing whatever their Cuban counterparts did, citing a lack of medical equipment and salary to carry out their duties.

Furthermore, they questioned the high pay that Cuban doctors received, which included extensive medical treatment through the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and complete reimbursement for their living expenses.

Dr. Davji Bhimji Atellah, KMPDU Secretary-General, said at the time that hiring 150 Cuban medical specialists was equivalent to hiring 500 Kenyan doctors.

Although Cuba’s healthcare system has been acclaimed as one of the greatest in the world, Amtellah argued that the scope of family medical practice in Kenya and Cuba differs, necessitating the training of doctors to adapt to the program.

He cited the emphasis on a preventative approach to medicine, as opposed to the curative approach that had been traditionally employed in Kenya.

As a result, even after training in Cuba, they had to return to Kenya and complete two years of training there before the medical board approved them to practice as family doctors.

According to Amtellah, the counties were housing the Cuban physicians, paying them three times as much as Kenyan doctors, and providing a driver and security at the expense of our local doctors.

The new KMPDC guideline is also intended to increase employment opportunities for local graduates who are exempt from worldwide competition.

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