The family of a Kenyan doctor who committed suicide in Cuba has spoken out on his final days.
According to Dr Hamisi Ali Juma’s sister, Likoni MP Mishi Mboko, her brother was planning to travel back home last Tuesday to check on his wife and eight-month-old son, only for the family to receive information that he had committed suicide.
Ms Mboko said Dr Juma had poured out his frustrations about the working conditions in Cuba when they talked two weeks ago.
“He complained that they were poorly paid. In fact, he had decided to come back home for good,” Ms Mboko said.
The doctor’s death has brought to the fore the harsh conditions the health workers are going through in the Caribbean country.
He was among the 50 doctors who were sponsored by the government to study family medicine in Cuba under a memorandum of understanding between the two nations. In return, Kenya received Cuban specialists, who are stationed in county hospitals.
Speaking at the family home in Likoni, Mombasa, Friday, doctors renewed their demand for the immediate termination of the sponsorship programme in Cuba and the return of the Kenyan doctors.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) deputy secretary-general Chibanzi Mwachonda said they would not relent until their colleagues returned.
The Saturday Nation learnt that the doctors had initially written a letter to the union complaining about mistreatment, poor pay, lack of medical cover and flight tickets to visit their families in Kenya annually.
Dr Mwachonda said their colleague had been very frustrated.
“He had a wife and a sick child, so there was that frustration. The cost of living in Cuba is high compared to Kenya yet the allowance they were supposed to receive was slashed from Sh144,000 to Sh36,000 monthly. They were also denied flight tickets back home, made to live in dormitories and take a two-hour drive to their training centre. Food was also an issue,” Dr Mwachonda said.
He added the doctors faced unclear consequences if they opted out of the training programme.
“He said they were to face disciplinary action and have monies that had already been paid for the programme deducted,” said Dr Mwachonda.
Kenya Medical Association (KMA) national secretary-general, Dr Simon King'ondu, said he had worked with Dr Juma and he was always in a jovial mood.
“We should probe this matter because there are issues in Cuba. We should rescue our colleagues before it is too late,” Dr King’ondu said at the Coast Provincial General mortuary while awaiting the results of a second autopsy.
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho said the remaining 49 doctors should be allowed to return home if they were uncomfortable.
The body of Dr Juma arrived at the Moi International Airport Friday and was taken to the Coast Provincial General Hospital for the second post-mortem examination.
The governor defended the move by the family to conduct the autopsy, saying it would ascertain what led to his death.
Dr Juma, who was in his mid-30s, was married to Dr Zeyana Rasul. She was expecting to receive her husband only to get the sad news of his death.