The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) reiterated its rejection to the government’s hiring of medics from Cuba amid the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, local media reported Tuesday.
The union is accusing the government of bypassing its own medics and opting for foreigners, and is demanding it employ 1,000 jobless Kenyan doctors, as well as ramping up counties’ medical workforce, suggesting a rate of at least 50 new doctors per county, according to The Standard website.
“The importation of the Cuban doctors by the government is in bad taste. We have health workers who are qualified and have been trained with the taxpayers’ money but the government is not considering them, “ the website quoted KMPDU Acting Secretary-General Chibanzi Mwachonda. “They are specialized doctors in Internal medicine, oncology, cardiology, renal and pediatrics. With COVID-19 cases rising, these specialized doctors will go a long way in supporting our doctors in managing the disease and exchanging in terms of skill development.”
Kenya on Thursday recorded 796 new cases of Covid, the highest number of infections in 24 hours, as the national caseload reached 15,601. The new cases were found in 6,745 samples tested the previous day.
The surge in cases comes just days ahead of the Fifth Extraordinary Session of the National and County Governments Co-ordinating Summit, during which President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to discuss whether the country is prepared for the coronavirus peak, and whether more containment measures will be put in place.
According to local media, Kenyatta is expected to discuss his options of either imposing a lockdowny or instituting further containment measures that will see the restriction of movement in counties that have witnessed a spike in cases in the past two weeks.
Despite the soaring numbers, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi said the government is in control of the situation.
She said 378 patients had recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 7,135.
“Our alert system shows we are in control. Countries that have been like Italy, which are overwhelmed, cannot be compared to Kenya. We have an alert system that shows us where we need to focus should the situation escalate,” she said.
Mwangangi said more than 500 health workers have been infected with the virus, with the latest being at the National Spinal Injury Hospital.
The health workers have continued to complain about the lack of government’s goodwill, citing a promised welfare package that is yet to be received by some workers.
One doctor and two nurses have died from COVID-19 while more than 546 other health workers are infected in Kenya.
Kenyatta instructed the health ministry to accelerate the distribution of more than 3 billion Kenya shillings ($29 million) to cushion health workers from the pandemic’s effects, according to The Standard.
Kenya received 100 Cuban doctors two years ago, including 47 specialists and 53 family physicians, to address human resource challenges that have hit the public health sector since independence.
The government has denied any special perks given to Cuban medics compared to their Kenyan colleagues.
“They are not given any special treatment. They are doctors and are paid as per what other doctors in their capacities are paid,” The Standard quoted Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman.