The withdrawal of the two Cuban doctors attached to the Hola County Hospital in Tana River County has elicited mixed reactions.
A number of residents interviewed said the withdrawal would impact negatively on health service delivery at the hospital while Health, Executive, Mwanajuma Hiribae said there is no cause for alarm.
The County Commissioner (CC), Oning’oi Ole Sosio said the Cuban health specialists were withdrawn to safeguard them from attacks or abduction like two of their colleagues who were kidnapped in Mandera last Friday.
“They were withdrawn as a safeguard,” he said when asked why they had been taken away from the hospital yet there is no history of terrorist attacks in the county.
Mrs. Hiribae on her part said although services will be affected, the county government had made adequate arrangements to ensure there is no service disruption.
She said her department had already interviewed candidates for positions of medical officers and very soon, new doctors would be recruited to serve patients.
“In the meantime, doctors who are doing managerial work may be called upon to serve in the places of the two Cuban doctors, but there is no cause for alarm,” he said.
Tana River was allocated two of the Cuban doctors that came into the country on an exchange programme following a deal between the governments of Kenya and Cuba.
Those posted to the Hola County Hospital were Dr. Oriol Valon Costa, a surgeon and a family doctor, Dr. Madelin Areas Hall.
They had settled down and were getting along well with locals and leaders who nicknamed them Bagana and Harufa after the names of former acting County Secretary, Salim Bagana and County Public Service Management Executive, Harufa Algi.
One of the residents, James Onchaga said it would be very difficult for the local doctors to cope with the work as the Cubans had greatly improved health services at the hospital.
He called on the county government to train local youths seeking to undertake medicine and surgery causes so that local health facilities will not have to rely on doctors from outside the county.
“I urge the government to ensure that the gap left by the Cuban doctors is filled as fast as possible so residents can continue enjoying services at our hospital,” he said.
On his part, Yusuf Hamaro urged the government to return the doctors but give them adequate security to enable them work without fear.
He wondered why the doctors were withdrawn, yet Tana River has not had incidents of terrorist attacks or abductions.
However, an intelligence source said although the county has not experienced attacks, a number of al Shabaab militants were active in the area and could be recruiting members to the outlawed criminal gang.
By Emmanuel Masha