he 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.”

The government 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.

Kenyan 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.

This comes as Kenya is suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic which also has affected the medical fraternity.

One doctor and two nurses have died from COVID-19 while more than 546 other health workers are infected in Kenya.

Kenyan President Uhuru 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.

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