The Minister of State for Health in charge of Primary Health Care, Dr. Moriku JoyceKaducu has said government has never given up on its plan to import Cuban doctors to be employed in government health facilities all over the country.
Government early this year announced it would employ over 200 Cuban doctors in the countryside and hard to reach health facilities all over the country, attracting a backlash from members of the public.
Meanwhile, since then, not much has been said about the move by government.
Responding to a question in regards the matter at Kololo independence grounds on Friday, Dr.Kaducu said government halted the plans but noted they had not completely been done away with.
“The Cuban doctors are in Cuba. Because we care and love the Ugandan doctors, government advertised and recruitment of local doctors took place,” the Minister said.
As the talk about Cuban doctors raged, Uganda Medical Association blasted government for not being patriotic enough to employ local doctors.
In a statement signed by Dr.Ekwaro Obuku, the UMA president, Uganda has over 1500 specialist doctors registered with the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council and the country graduates over 150 specialist doctors annually adding that it would not make sense to import Cubans to do work that can be done by locals.
“The comprehensive cost of importing Cuban doctors is likely to outweigh benefits with such other additional costs as housing, transport, salary, and security. Further the language barrier creates the need for nurses and midwives as interpreter, which removes them from the core lifesaving duties to merely facilitate communication,” reads their statement to the committee on legal and parliamentary affairs.
According to government, each of the 200 Cuban doctors intended to fill the gap of inadequate medical specialists in the country was to be paid shs5.4 million ($1500).
Uganda Medical Association however urged government to give the money to the Ugandan doctors.
Speaking on Friday, Dr.Kaducu said after advertising, government was able to recruit a number of local doctors to fill the gaps.
“We care and will continue to show love to Ugandan doctors .We are still analyzing the specialties and where we find gaps(after recruitment of Ugandan doctors), we shall bring in the Cuban doctors but our first priority is Ugandan doctors,” the State Minister for Health said .