Why we better start embracing Cuban Docs and, export our Kenyan Nurses

Cuban doctors arrive in Kenya in June 2018. [Picture courtesy of kenyans.co.ke]

Someone said there could be nothing worse than being caught flat-footed most of the time or what is sometimes called running between a pillar and a post. About Cuban docs, we better start appreciating ’em. I too believe we should continue to engage the relevant parties as this exchange programme unfolds. However my post today is a response to some item that appeared on 13th July 2018 that nurses will be interpreting for Cuban Docs. In any case does Kenya owe her nurses a job?

If the ordinary Kenyan will not mind being treated by Cubans, then why not consider the patient’s perspective too? Cubans did not land us where we are. Most of the Cubans docs we will be getting have been to two or three other African countries, so they are not as naive in terms of culture shock as may be if we went to Cuba ourselves. Just check up their profiles. Something else sooner than later our own docs will embrace them like a glove and nurses might be left fighting them on their own. 50 Kenyan doctors have been earmarked for the exchange program. Kenyan nurses should ask for a slot too.

I was surprised that two of the Cuban docs who reported to one of the ‘fairly rural’ county hospitals have been allocated 2 body guards each and are accommodated in the best hotel in town. I believe this will be unnecessary in the long run. Medics have a comaradie mindset and the sooner they themselves shake out the politics and the tidings thereof out of their activities of daily living the better for everyone.

Moreover, we too have been to international missions (operation smile, smile train, Ebola etc. and I feel that most of us do not regret the exposure) as we normally said during such missions ‘the difference between Here and There is just a letter T’. Kenyan nurses have been the epitome of excellence wherever they have been worldwide. kenyans were rated the 3rd most hard working immigrants in the US, report by awmagazine August 2018 edition. Ghana led with 75%, Kenya 73.4%, with Bulgaria coming second. The number of Kenyans (legally) in the USA are estimated to be  120,000.

The United Kingdom , the United States, Norway, Australia and Ireland among others were currently in dire need of nurses due to the huge demand for healthcare. This is not to say we have enough nurses ourselves or do we just fail to absorb and place them?

According to the Health Workforce Status Report (released on 5th My 2017), the ratio of nurses per 10,000 Kenyans varies from as high as 9.7:10,000 in Nairobi to as low as 0.1:10,000 in Mandera.
I believe Kenya can export nurses. If we are unable to absorb our own nurses then let’s give them that chance elsewhere. It is a feasible, viable development strategy, at least so observed Patsy Lewis in Social and Economic Studies.

Indeed it is about the high time we developed a deliberate policy on training nurses for export model like Philipines, India, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Ethiopia etc. Almost all Caribbean countries do,  they were rated the highest contributors of skilled nationals to developed countries.

At some point in  Dr. Da Costa Aboagye urged Ghanaian government to develop a strategic arrangement to export nurses officially to countries where their services are needed. He cited that this was a viable foreign exchange, the nurses would improve the economic fortunes of their families through remittances. This would ease the unemployment among the youth. Many nurses had continued to remain unemployed after completion of their academic studies and mandatory rotation. Dr Costa added “The Philippine government has a formal arrangement with the United Kingdom to export nurses. Other countries like Cuba have similar arrangements with some governments of developed and developing countries to export nurses…”

One of Cuba’s most profitable export is actually its own health care professionals earning $8 billion ( ~Ksh 800 billion) a year in revenues from professional services carried out by its doctors and nurses. Cuba is a good example of a government that owes its health care workers a job. About 37,000 Cubans were in these overseas missions in 77 countries. Between 2013-2014 about 11,000 Cuban doctors had been sent to serve in underserved regions of Brazil.

Testifies one Bill Frist in Forbes Magazine in 2015:

‘In my travels doing medical mission work to underserved regions in over a dozen African nations, the most common nonindigenous health personnel I run across are doctors and nurses from Cuba offering frontline primary and emergency care. They serve and cure, building trust in Cuba’s name globally’. The phenomena is called The Cuban Health Paradox.

We the Kenyan health care professionals should not waste this crisis, let’s use it to petition our legislature for such policies.  There will be some attention now than ever.  Our own Kenyans go to East Asia (e.g. Philipines) to train as nurses because they have a very robust policy on training nurses for export model. This will also be an opportunity to leverage our standards to meet the market demands. Just by way of asking how comes we do not yet have an NCLEX test center anywhere in Africa even though we have some CGFNS? [National Council Licensure Examination,  Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools respectively]

Concerning interpreters tuombe that no other cadre in the healthcare professionals would be dying to have such an opportunity. ANOTHER TURBULENCE/STORM FOR THE NURSING FRATERNITY IN KENYA. You can have a look at some items on turbulence and Cuban docs in Kenya.

You can read the developing article on Does Kenya really owe her nurses a job?

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