NAIROBI– It is official, 100 specialized Cuban doctors are expected in the country after the Kenya government formally signed the necessary paperwork.

Sicily Kariuki, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, who signed the contract on her current trip to Havana, Cuba, said 50 Kenyan doctors will also travel to Cuba for specialized training, mostly on family medicine.

President Uhuru Kenyatta sanctioned the bilateral agreement allowing Cuban doctors to work in Kenya during a recent visit to Cuba.

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.

The Health CS said the deployment of the doctors to rural areas will help improve access to specialist medical services and reduce dependency on referral hospitals.

The CS said the contracted medics will help in the transfer of knowledge at the rural level.

Kenya and Cuba have agreed to form a joint Technical Committee that will oversee implementation progress of the agreed action points of the Kenya � Cuba Health cooperation MoU.

Earlier this week, the Head of the Presidential Delivery Unit Nzioka Waita said the government’s move is meant to improve public health sector performance in specialties including oncology, nephrology, and dermatology.

This comes as the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) and Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPPDU) object the hiring of Cuban doctors saying Kenya has more than 1,000 doctors who are unemployed.

In a statement, Nzioka said we are bringing in specialists in very complex areas of medicine, including ontology, nephrology and dermatology. Specialists in these areas are few and far between, yet their services are in high demand.

He further stated that the government pushed on with the deal in a bid to address the existing doctor-to-patient ratio which currently stands at 1 doctor to 16,000 patients.

Our efforts to boost access to specialised medical service at the County level are not a condemnation of our own professionals, rather, it is a mere recognition that we need more specialized doctors he added.

Nzioka explained that the underlying objective of the partnership is to build expertise and capacity at the country’s grassroots Level 4 & 5 hospitals.