NAIROBI-Kenya has agreed to accelerate a health agreement it signed with Cuba last year, by importing doctors from the Caribbean nation to fill gaps in county hospitals as President Uhuru Kenyatta pulls all the levers to ensure the success of the Health pillar of his Big Four Agenda.

Health CAS Rashid Aman said Kenya had struck an agreement to bring in 100 medical specialists � with each county getting at least two � and Kenya would also send 50 doctors to Cuba for specialised training shortly.

Kenya would also work with Cuba on collaborative research projects, develop training for primary healthcare workers, and collaborate to build capacity to undertake genetic engineering and biotech work.

Timelines are as soon as possible, said Aman, who is part of the delegation with President Kenyatta, who is on his last day of a state visit to the Caribbean nation globally known for its leadership in primary healthcare.

Cuban doctors will need to be cleared by the Kenya Medical and Dentists Practitioners Board but Governors Anyang Nyong’o of Kisumu and Mohamud Mohamed Ali of Marsabit, who are also in the delegation and back the deal, said they expected no problems.

Nyong’o, who had been to Cuba twice before when he served as a minister in the coalition government, and had been party to health cooperation agreements that were never implemented, said he wanted to see swift implementation because health was at the epicentre of growing Kenya.

President Kenyatta has ordered Aman to stay on, in Cuba until he delivers on critical results � an agreement with extensive detail on cooperation with Cuba.

Essentially, the agreement will cover a raft of critical areas. These will include, first, the secondment by the Cuban government of doctors to Kenya to fill crucial gaps in county hospitals; and secondment of technical experts to operate equipment.

The second will be the participation in research and advanced trials of medicines in areas that Kenya is vulnerable; using therapeutic anti-HIV and anti-prostate cancer vaccines; vaccines to control influenza and meningitis; and control of diabetic foot ulcer amputation.

It will also cover the vector control in the fight against malaria.

Kenya will also look to Cuba for vaccines against ticks, guaranteeing healthy animals and cleaner environment due to a reduction of chemicals used in tackling ticks at the moment.

The sum total of these agreements is that Cuban experts will come into Kenya within the next few weeks, and working hand-in-hand with their Kenyan counterparts, will roll out a range of medical interventions that will radically change how we manage a large number of life-threatening diseases.

If the recent political handshake had the potential to change political discourse, the agreement with Cuba will be of seismic proportions when it comes to management of our healthcare systems.

The key approach element for the Cubans, is simple: It is about preventive measures, with the primary guidance being that the country must stop spread of disease before it becomes a drain on the economy.

Collaboration with Cuba is likely to become a major strategy in how Kenya deals with the preventive options in disease management, with a keen eye on saving billions of shillings that go to global pharmaceutical majors each year for treatment � at the cost of growing the economy and delivering shared prosperity to all.