Kenya has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Cuba to enable the country enhance its capacity and acquire skills in specialised healthcare.
The MoU covers areas such as biotechnology, cancer care (oncology), kidney care (nephrology), critical care, cardiovascular surgery, drug manufacturing among other specialisations.
The MoU signed on Tuesday at the sidelines of the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, will also see the two countries collaborate in the pharmaceutical sector, as Cuba explores options of setting shop in Kenya, with an interest in the manufacture of anti-retroviral medicines (ARVs), anti-malarial drugs, vaccines, medical gases and devices.
Kenya was represented by Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu and Cuba by Minister for Public Health, Roberto Morales.
The MoU proposes collaboration in the exchange of health specialists to enable skills transfer and capacity building in the Kenyan health sector.
At the height of the 100-day doctors’ strike, the health CS sought surgeons and medical specialists from Cuba.
Dr Mailu was in talks with the Caribbean island country to offer specialised treatment in public hospitals, especially county hospitals that have shortages as top doctors concentrate in Nairobi.
“I have been to Cuba even before the medics’ strike to look for doctors who have already completed their postgraduate to come here and breach the gap in facilities that do not mainly have specialist doctors,” Dr Mailu then said.
Cuba has sent health-care workers to countries ranging from Venezuela to Brazil to generate cash and spread what it regards as the social achievements of the Castro brothers’ 1959 revolution.
Last year President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that Kenya and Cuba would establish an exchange programme for health workers in the two countries to improve initiatives to provide quality and affordable healthcare services.
“Cuba has one of the best health models in the world. I believe there is a lot we can share on health,” President Kenyatta said.
In a meeting held on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly, the country was lauded for the domestic and external resources investment it has put in disease control, maternal and child health, and primary health care programmes.
To further strengthen these systems, Dr Mailu said the ministry has partnered with the United Nations and the private sector has launched a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) partnership to mobilise an additional Sh200 million from the private sector to improve primary healthcare services.
“As the country moves towards the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the ministry will intensify efforts to address the health needs of the poor, inequities in health, health promotion and pay greater attention on quality of health care services,” Dr Mailu noted.