, HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 18—President Uhuru Kenyatta today concluded his historic State visit to the Caribbean nation of Cuba that was sharply focused on health, trade and heritage.
President Kenyatta departed Jose Marti International airport aboard a commercial aircraft shortly after midnight (7 am Sunday Kenyan time), after getting back on track a wide-ranging health agreement signed earlier but never implemented.
There were also quick wins in sports and agriculture.
Kenya will bring in 100 medical specialists – with each county getting at least two — and dispatch 50 doctors to Cuba for specialised training.
Cuban coaches will also come in to train Kenya’s boxing team, while Kenyan long distance running coaches will become part of the set-up the other way.
The Council of Governors is supporting President Kenyatta’s agenda on health.
The President’s entourage, Foreign CS Amb Dr Monica Juma, Sports CS Rashid Achesa, Health CAS Rashid Aman and senior adviser Ruth Kagia have been busy tidying up agreements because the President wants to see a matrix of deliverables for this and every engagement.
Governors Mohamud Mohamed Ali (Marsabit) and Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu) say they have failed to hire especially specialists who are reluctant to work in counties a distance from Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu or Eldoret.
Mohamed and Nyong’o agreed on the need to accelerate the programme so expert medical care is brought within reach of ordinary Kenyans.
“What we discovered is that Cubans are very concerned and very dedicated to research and have a very strong research department and they have had many firsts, they have eliminated malaria from the face of Cuba all together,” said the Marsabit Governor.
Governor Ali also said with a number of livestock vaccines developed in Cuba being made available to Kenya, pastoralists would not need to suffer any more.
“For us, as pastoralists, they have told us they are able to vaccinate our livestock so ticks will no longer been a problem. The vaccines also promote an eco-friendly environment,” he said.
Governor Nyong’o lauded the President for his determination to implement universal health care programme for Kenyans saying it was long overdue.
He said Cuba’s philosophy of giving priority to human development is a sure way to prosperity.
“They achieved all this not only because of the embargo from the US but also because of their own philosophy that human beings are the first item on the agenda for development. Once you get that equation correct others will follow. I think I could summarize this way, I have seen the future and it works,” Governor Nyong’o said from Havana.
“What gives me satisfaction this time is that the President is determined that we implement these long standing proposals of collaboration with Cuba,” he said.
Cuba has one of best health systems in the world and a good record in terms of human development statistics.
“They have very good primary healthcare, they have excellent referral facilities, and I think that for us who want to implement the universal healthcare coverage, this is the place to come to and to learn from,” said Governor Nyong’o.
Raphael Tuju, a co-opted cabinet member, said Kenyans could be able to achieve what Cuba has done by strengthening their unity in diversity and working together towards a common vision.
“They have been very good in managing their diversity, they have the blacks, they have the whites and those in between but they have been able to manage those divides,” said Tuju.
The sum total of the agreements agreed upon between the two countries, is that Cuban experts will come into Kenya within the next few weeks, and working hand-in-hand with their Kenyan counterparts, will roll out a range of medical interventions that will radically change how the country manages a large number of life-threatening diseases.
President Kenyatta also unveiled a bust of founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta erected at the Heroes Square in a rare honour by a foreign government for African freedom fighters.