Tanzanian medical body faults plan to send doctors to Kenya

Monday March 20 2017

By ELIZABETH MERAB
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By EUNICE KILONZO
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The Medical Association of Tanzania has faulted its government’s plan to send 500 Tanzanian doctors to Kenya, citing safety concerns and the unimplemented agreement between Kenya and its doctors.

“The association would like to know who will be responsible for the safety of the foreign doctors, given that there are already indicators of hate.

“We would also wish to know why this request has been made during the strike, and the implementation has to come a few days after the agreement to terminate the strike,” read a statement sent to newsrooms.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Saturday announced the plan to send 500 doctors to Kenya to help address shortage of health workers and also mitigate effects of the just ended strike. This was after meeting with a Kenyan delegation led by Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu in Dar es Salaam.

THREE-YEAR CONTRACTS

Speaking during an impromptu visit to the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, on Monday, Dr Mailu said: “By April 1, those doctors will be here as the recruitment process has begun.”

Dr Mailu said the doctors would be given two to three-year contracts, and would be posted to national, county and faith-based health facilities across the country.

The medical officers from Tanzania will step in to address Kenya’s poor doctor-to-patient ratio and burn-out of Kenyan doctors due to long working hours.

For instance, the Casualty Department at the Kenyatta National Hospital requires 35 doctors but has only 14, as a result, the difference is covered by doctors from private practice also known as locums.
The Health CS dismissed claims by the doctors’ union that there are 1,400 jobless Kenyan doctors, saying that they were unemployed “by choice” after resigning from the public sector or joining the private sector.

“The impression that we are bringing foreign doctors while ours are on the streets, is an absolute lie,” he clarified.

EMPLOYING NON CITIZENS

On concerns about going against Public Service Commission regulations on employing non-citizens when there are citizens with appropriate qualifications, the Health CS said: “We do not have the skills, even with doctors from the private sector, to address the shortage as all doctors are absorbed. It then behoves us to look for that skill elsewhere.”

Dr Mailu also said that Tanzania produces more doctors than it can absorb, and Kenya has the capacity to absorb professionals from the region without the need to retrain or examine them further due to a standardised medical curriculum.

State House on Sunday said the recruitment of doctors from Tanzania would be “cost-effective and sustainable” as they will not have access to the mortgage, car loan packages or pension offered under Kenya’s public service scheme.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Board, said in a statement the foreign medics — who should be East Africans — will have to pay about Sh5,000 for application, and another Sh30,000 for evaluation of their application papers.