I am tired of hearing, “But you are a doctor!” every single time I tell someone that I have no money.
I am tired of being judged so harshly for contributing “just Sh 500” at funeral or weddings fundraisers yet I am a whole doctor. I am tired of trying to make everyone to believe that you can be a doctor and jobless. It is 2018 in Kenya. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is our president, Nairobi is no longer just a city, it is a county whose governor is called Sonko.
Doctors are no longer being posted to counties after the internship. These days, after you are done with your internship, you get your retention letter, your certificate of registration, then sit at home and wait till counties advertise for positions. There is still a very big shortage of doctors, but counties are not going to absorb all of them, because, “lack of money”. There could be other small reasons that only governors and the people who have a seat at the table know.
Meanwhile, the national government remains mum about the unemployed Kenyan doctors, it hasn’t forgotten the promises it made to its people. Universal Health Care delivery is one of the big four agenda that the Jubilee government is keen to deliver. Kenyans are going to receive preventive, curative, and rehabilitative healthcare services close to their homes at a cost that will not dent their pockets.
I am sure nobody asked for them for a clearance certificate from HELB, a clearance certificate from EACC or CRB or for a certificate of good conduct. They must think it is so easy to get a job in this godforsaken country. But you can’t blame them, can you?
Therefore, the government imported 100 Cubans. Each will reportedly will pocket Sh 800,000 ($8,000), with other attendant perks that Kenyan doctors can only dream about. This shows just how serious the government is about delivering Universal Health Care. It is willing to spend so much money on a function that is otherwise the responsibility of the county governments just to make sure it succeeds.
And this time the government is not taking chances by employing Kenyan specialists even though there are 171 of them who are currently unemployed. The counties which have very little money to employ Kenyan specialists have welcomed and embraced this idea. They are going to provide the Cubans with furnished homes, transport to and from their workstations, security, and translators. The Cubans will never know just how much security or water costs in this country because their electricity and water bills shall be the headache of the county governments, not theirs.
The county government of Busia already has a tentative budget for the household items it is going to purchase for the two Cubans who will be based in Busia county. We are waiting to see which county will outdo the others. Kisumu’s Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o was overzealous and was happy to address the Cubans in Spanish, a language he may have picked in exile where his daughter Lupita was born.
This arrangement means Cubans will think Kenya is a perfect country. How will they think otherwise if they are launched into the country in a ceremony as colorful as all political ceremonies can get, then welcomed into fully furnished houses in which they will live at no cost? These Cubans will never have to download job application forms where they will be required to fill their three names, their counties and wards of origin, the languages they are proficient in, and the names, phone numbers and email addresses of three referees. They will never sit through an interview and answer so many questions and in the end, fail to get the job. I am sure nobody asked for them for a clearance certificate from HELB, a clearance certificate from EACC or CRB or for a certificate of good conduct. They must think it is so easy to get a job in this godforsaken country. But you can’t blame them, can you?
Soon, the long queues characteristic of public hospitals will be a thing of the past. Complications during childbirth are about to become history in this country. Some of them are oncologists and so all cancers will be screened, diagnosed and treated early. No more waiting six months for radiotherapy.
The government in its wisdom has decided to create employment for Cubans while thousands of us move from county to another looking for the very jobs. If there is anyone who thinks that is wrong, they won’t even say it. Perhaps they are eager to see what Cuban doctors can do. Or they believe that the Cubans will fix all the problems in our healthcare. Or they don’t really care whether it is Kenyans or Cubans who are employed if there are good results. Some counties like Taita Taveta have already issued memos to its doctors putting all long-term training on hold. Maybe they are satisfied with their Cubans. Or they don’t see the need to waste resources training Kenyans while they can get Cubans ‘at a bargain’.
I am not a specialist; not yet. But as things stand that is going to be a dream that will be difficult for many doctors of my generation and the generations after us to achieve. Except of course if they decide to quit Kenya and venture into the countries in the west. Doctors who are already in county employment are not being released to go study
Meanwhile, I will continue waiting to be shortlisted or to at least receive a rejection letter from one or all of my prospective employers. I will not even seek for any closure. The government cannot sustain all of us. And it must pay Cubans better because they came all the way from Cuba just to treat mama mboga. Surely, they deserve a good pay, a good house with running water and electricity, and since they will miss their home, they must have a travel allowance. They are coming to fix our healthcare that won’t even be enough compared to what they are going to do. Soon, the long queues characteristic of public hospitals will be a thing of the past. Complications during childbirth are about to become history in this country. Some of them are oncologists and so all cancers will be screened, diagnosed and treated early. No more waiting six months for radiotherapy. Westerners are amazing, you bet.
It is a shame that Kenya has been training doctors since independence and a whole half a decade later, these very doctors have not done a thing to improve health care. They are even negligent. Time to bring in some serious men and women, who are properly trained for the work.