EFE/14ymedio, Nairobi, 20 September 2023 — The Kenyan President, William Ruto, speaking to his Cuban counterpart, Miguel Díaz-Canel, during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, thanked him for Cuba’s “links” with his country, which have allowed Kenya to improve its development, “particularly in the health sector.”
“Our links with Cuba have greatly benefited our national development agenda, particularly in the health sector,” Ruto said last night on his social network X (Twitter) account, after meeting with Díaz-Canel in New York.
“We will continue to strengthen and expand these relationships to foster partnerships that will transform people’s lives,” the Kenyan president added.
For its part, Cuba “praised” Kenya for having agreed to lead an eventual international peacekeeping force in Haiti to “liberate” that country “from gang violence,” according to Ruto.
The agreement has raised hackles in different sectors of Kenyan society ranging from medical unions to the opposition to the Government
Kenya and Cuba began a program in 2017 that made it easier for Cuban doctors to occupy several vacant positions in Kenyan hospitals, as well as the transfer of Kenyan doctors to Cuba to receive specialized training. The agreement has raised hackles in different sectors of Kenyan society ranging from medical unions to the opposition to the Government.
They were joined this week by the Health Committee of the National Assembly, which asked the Government not to renew the contract to the 120 Cuban doctors in the country, arguing that the places for the Island’s health workers should be occupied by specialists in the country, “because their salaries are enough to employ at least three Kenyan doctors.”
For each physician, $4,257 is paid to the Island, of which $851 corresponds to the salary for the doctor and the remaining $3,406 is a contribution from the Kenyan Government.
Bhimji Atellah, general secretary of the Union of Physicians, Pharmacists and Dentists of Kenya, described the exchange program as a “waste of human resources” after denouncing that 50 Kenyan doctors live in “deplorable conditions” in Cuba.
It is unknown if Ruto and Díaz-Canel addressed the kidnapping on Tuesday, but four years later nothing is known despite the recurring statements of both Governments stating that they are making joint efforts to achieve their release
As part of the agreements between Kenya and Cuba, specialists Landy Hernández and Assel Herrera Correa arrived in the African country and in April 2019 were kidnapped by alleged members of the Somali jihadist group Al Shabab.
It is unknown if Ruto and Díaz-Canel addressed the matter on Tuesday, but nothing is known four years after the event and despite the recurring statements of both governments stating that they are making joint efforts to achieve their release.
“No one knows the current whereabouts of the two Cuban doctors. We also do not have up-to-date information on the current state of their well-being,” a source from the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency told EFE last April.
“It is believed that they are still being held somewhere in an Al Shabab bastion since their kidnapping,” the source said. “We have no more details at the moment,” he insisted, “and nothing new has emerged in the last two years.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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