Report: Kenyan Orders Mentorship of ‘Incompetent’ Cuban Slave Doctors

Some 100 Cuban doctors follow proceedings during their induction programme at the Kenya School of Government, on June 11, 2018 in Nairobi. - The doctors will be posted to various hospitals in Kenya's 47 counties. Each county is expected to get at least two doctors. (Photo by SIMON MAINA / …
SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images

Kenyan doctors are decrying a government memorandum ordering them to mentor “incompetent” Cuban slave doctors as they cannot be trusted to work alone, noting that they opposed importing more doctors to the African country when so many native medical professionals are out of a job, Diario de Cuba reported on Monday.

The Spanish newspaper, citing Kenya’s Daily Nation, noted that Kenyan Health Secretary Susan Mochache reportedly issued the memorandum on August 7, but the Nation first made it public this weekend.

An alleged copy of the memorandum circulating in Kenyan media sources indicates that the government expected the Cuban doctors to be of high enough quality to mentor the Kenyans, but that the results of that project have “not been optimal” and that the government now needs for the reverse to happen to ensure that citizens’ health care does not suffer from the Cuban doctors’ inability to do their jobs.

The Daily Nation coupled the revelation of the memorandum with reports at the local level of Cuban slave doctors being unable to diagnose common diseases without the help of Kenyan doctors and being demoted for “incompetence,” fueling frustration among Kenyan doctors.

The Cuban communist regime makes an estimated $11 billion exporting doctors around the world. Upon leaving the country, the doctors receive a meager “living stipend” and have severe restrictions imposed on their mobility, contact with their families, and freedom of expression. The Castro regime keeps 75 percent of their salaries, and a doctor who chooses to leave the program is banned from entering Cuba for eight years.

Cuban doctors who have defected from the program have referred to it as slavery, and human rights advocates have compared it to prostitution.

The Daily Nation disclosed that the memorandum was directed to Kenyan medical superintendents, ordering them to make Kenyan doctors mentor their Cuban counterparts, and suggested that the order has “given credence to the concerns earlier raised by local medical practitioners that the programme was ill-advised.”

It cited unnamed medical sources who stated that the impetus for the mentorship order was a string of cases of “incompetence” on the part of the Cubans that has required Kenyan doctor intervention. Among them, the Kenyan newspaper lists the deregistration of a Cuban surgeon, barring him from practice and professional repercussions for a Cuban doctor who could not diagnose basic conditions like urinary tract infections without help from Kenyan doctors.

“The ministry wants to cover up their incompetence; making sure that there is a Kenyan medic on hand to step in when there is a problem,” a Daily Nation source said.

The alleged copy of the memorandum surfacing uses language that does not make entirely clear who is mentoring whom in the agreement, stating only that the program is not functioning in its “optimal” form currently.

“It is important to ensure that they are paired with Kenyan doctors in those stations for mentorship as per the bilateral agreement and recommendations of the Rapid Assessment team,” the text says. The Daily Nation deduced, noting the various cases of failures on the part of the Cuban doctors, that they are the ones in need of mentorship.

Confronted by reporters from the newspaper, the Ministry of Health bizarrely claimed that it had commanded the Cuban doctors to mentor the Kenyans, not vice versa, while also confirming the contents of the memorandum.

“The Cubans have been here treating patients, but they have not been transferring the knowledge to the Kenyans; so we wrote that circular to ensure that happens,” the ministry told the newspaper.

The Cuban slave doctor program has been extremely controversial in Kenya, where the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPDU) has insisted as many as 1,000 qualified doctors still need jobs and will compete for 100 fewer of them thanks to the Cubans. The deal would see Kenya accept 100 Cuban specialists, two per county, and Cuba take in 50 Cuban doctors for specialist training in Havana.

The Kenyan government chose to send doctors to train in Havana despite Cuba’s woeful education system and the poor experiences of other countries with the program. In one notable example, the government of the Pacific island of Tuvalu canceled its program to send doctors to train in Cuba in 2015 after they returned home with minimal healthcare skills, and only being able to communicate the little they knew in Spanish, a language not spoken in Tuvalu.

The Daily Nation reported last week that the Kenyan Medical Board is already finding that the doctors training in Cuba cannot fulfill the requirements to be certified to practice in the country.

As for the Cuban doctors in Kenya, the KMPDU sued the government in mid-2018 to block the Cubans from entering the country but lost the lawsuit.

“Statistics produced in this court by respondents are enough proof the specialists are urgently needed, especially upcountry, where Kenyan doctors have no interest,” the presiding judge ruled.

“Kenya has 1,000 doctors who are not employed. They have waited for deployment since May 2017. There are additional specialists who have been waiting for deployment to counties. Is there room for these Drs in Kenya?” Ouma Oluga, the secretary-general of the KMPDU, said when the government initially announced its plan to import 100 doctors to work in the country.

“The decision by the government to bring in doctors from Cuba should take into consideration the more than 1,200 Kenyan doctors currently unemployed since May 2017,” Mwachonda Chibanzi, another KMPDU official, told media last year.

Kenyan doctors have also protested that the Cubans are much more expensive to hire even without being paid a salary. Reports from around the time that the deal was signed revealed that the Kenyan government would pay the Castro regime between $7,833 and $8,791 per doctor a month, with no obligation on Havana to pass the money over to the doctors. A Kenyan doctor makes, in contrast, an average of $15,000 a year.

Nairobi never officially made the provisions of the deal public.

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