The first batch of the long-awaited Cuban doctors have jetted in the country.
Their arrival, aboard a KLM flight at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), marks the culmination of a deal signed between Kenya and Cuba for the deployment of 100 specialist doctors.
On a rainy night that saw journalists and other visitors at JKIA constantly shifting places because of a leaking roof outside Terminal 1A, the flight carrying the medics whose contracting caused outcry from local doctors, touched down at 9:47pm.
But the doctors had to wait for almost two hours to exit the arrivals' lounge as they went through immigration checks.
After exiting the lounge, the Cuban doctors were ushered into waiting buses and driven off.
They were received by the Health ministry’s Cabinet Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman, Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko and Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o.
A second batch is expected in the country on Thursday, June 7, 2018.
Dr Aman said the doctors will undergo training at the Kenya School of Government where they will be inducted into the local healthcare system.
"The doctors will be trained on how our healthcare system works before being deployed to public health facilities across several counties," said Dr Aman.
After the training, the government will link them with medical professionals from stations where they have been deployed.
"The main idea in bringing these specialists is to learn from the Cuban experience in building a robust primary and curative healthcare system that has afforded the country universal health care," Dr Aman said.
Dr Aman said Kenya would send 50 local doctors to Cuba to be trained in family medicine.
"As part of the bilateral agreement we signed with Cuba, we are sending 50 of our doctors there so that they can learn the Cuban healthcare system which has been able to achieve universal health care. The team will comprise one doctor from each of the 47 counties," said the health official.
Dr Aman appealed to Kenyans to give the doctors a chance to settle down and carry out their work despite the storm of criticism surrounding the deal.
"There have been several negative media reports about the agreement to bring in these specialists, but we strongly believe they have an important role to play in our healthcare delivery," he said.
Governor Nyong’o voiced support for the Cuban doctors’ deal, saying they are recognised worldwide as high quality medical professionals.
"As the Council of Governors, we support and recognise the program as an important step in our efforts to provide quality healthcare to our people within county facilities countrywide," said Mr Nyong'o.
The governor asked critics of the Cuban medics to study the country's success in providing high quality medical services to its people.