Kenya and Cuba have pledged to enhance bilateral relations in the field of research, vaccines, and pharmaceutical products as the former moves to implement further reforms in the health sector.
In a meeting with Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Tuesday, outgoing Cuba’s ambassador to Kenya, Ernesto Gómez Díaz said his country remains committed to providing technical support to Kenya as demonstrated by the presence of specialist Cuban doctors in the country who are part of a medical exchange programme between the two nations.
“We already have 53 doctors in the country with a further 15 expected to arrive soon. Our doctors are happy to work in Kenya,” said Diaz.
The 53 are part of 101 specialist doctors expected in the country following a request by county administrations. The new cooperation agreement was signed between Kenya and Cuba during a visit by the health CS to Cuba in June this year.
According to Kagwe, the government is looking for enhanced cooperation including partnerships between Kenyan institutions like KEMRI and their Cuban counterparts in an effort to bridge the existing knowledge gap through medical research.
“The relationship between our two countries can only get better and deeper because we have an institutional framework that goes beyond individual involvement. Having seen the management of Cuba we have a lot to share and learn from each other,” observed the Health CS.
Citing his recent visit to the Caribbean nation, the CS said Kenya has picked key lessons from Cuba’s highly successful primary health care delivery model.
“During my visit to Cuba, we discussed training and exchange of nurses. On training, I was impressed by a program on medical administration. We find the course on hospital management quite unique. We want to start engagement on this immediately,” said the CS.
And with Cuba’s Abdalla and Soberana vaccines awaiting regulatory approval from the World Health Organisation for use in the management of Covid-19, Kagwe said Kenya is looking at an enhanced corporation as it moves to establish its own human vaccine production facility with the construction of a fill and finish facility almost complete.
At the same time, the health CS reiterated Kenya’s commitment to secure the safe release of Cuban doctors who were abducted by suspected Al-Shabaab militants.
The Kenyan government began implementing a health agreement signed with Cuba in 2017 which is expected to build the capacity of Kenya in specialized medical fields.