Kenyan Judge Blocks Cuban Doctors From Starting Work

Cuba exports medical services to more than 60 countries. (USAID)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 7 June 2018 — Fifty Cuban doctors arrived in Kenya on Tuesday, but will not be able to work, at least for now, because of a ruling on Wednesday by Judge Onesmus Makau of the Court on Employment and Labor Relations.

The controversial hiring by the Kenyan government of one hundred medical personnel from Cuba  is again confronting the demand by local doctors who say that there is no need in Kenya for foreign doctors, what is needed is to improve working conditions for local doctors. An additional 50 Cuban specialists will arrive this Thursday.

So far Cuba has not commented on the issue.

Three local doctors who are unemployed filed a lawsuit because they believe that nationals should have priority in hiring, under the Constitution. The fate of Cuban doctors in the African country will be decided on June 19.

“The laws of Kenya prohibit the issuance of work permits for non-Kenyans until the statutory mandatory provisions are met, with the central objective of protecting Kenyan citizens in relation to job opportunities,” Anangwe Maloba, attorney for the plaintiffs, told local media.

He also accused the government of discriminating against local doctors by paying more to their Cuban colleagues. According to Kenya’s Minister of Health, Sicily Kariuki, the agreement with Cuba establishes a payment of 390,270 shillings (about 3,800 dollars) for the lowest wages while the highest salary will be 450,660 shillings (4,460 dollars). A Kenyan receives an average of 150,000 shillings (about 1,500 dollars) for the same work.

The export of medical services is the primary source of foreign exchange for the Cuban Government, which has deployed health professionals in more than 60 countries. According to official sources, Cuba receives annually at least ten billion dollars for the professionals it has working in countries such as Venezuela, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

Most of the money paid by countries or international institutions for Cuban medical services go directly to the coffers of the Cuban government, which gives doctors about a third of the amount in the contracts. Various international organizations have denounced this as a violation of human rights and a form of modern-day slavery.

Furthermore, the Cuban government punishes doctors who escape from these missions by prohibiting their return to Cuba for eight years. In addition, a portion of the money paid to them is set aside in accounts in Cuba and not paid to them until they return home at the end of their assignments. When they break the contract, they lose the right to the money they have accumulated.


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.