Updated: February 24, 2021
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya arrived Havana, Cuba, on Wednesday evening on a historic state visit.
The presidency in Kenya said in a statement that the visit would be dominated by bilateral talks on health, trade and heritage.
Why it matters: Cuba has a doctor-patient ratio of 1 to 150 compared to Kenya’s 1 to 16,000, and President Kenyatta’s visit is expected to boost his efforts in achieving the ‘Big Four’ agenda, especially in the provision of universal healthcare, where Cuba is a key global player.
“The President will explore how to build Kenyan capacity, increase the number of medical specialists in orthopaedic surgery, oncology, neurology, and trauma management; and collaborate in research on cancer and diabetes drugs, and eradication of malaria,” State House Spokesperson, Manoah Esipisu said ahead of the President’s departure.
“A debate on how and whether we can have access to Cuban health capacity, including doctors, is a healthy one. The government has an agenda and has to speak to partners that can help meet that agenda,” he added.
Cuba has engineered a system based on accessibility and preventive medicine and regards health as a basic human right.
Much of Cuba’s success in these areas is due to its primary healthcare system, which is one of the most proactive in the world.
Cuba’s population of 11.27 million has 452 out-patient clinics and the government gives priority to disease prevention, universal coverage and access to treatment.
Health services are offered for free and include check-ups, surgery, medical dispensing and doctor visitations.
Cuba’s relationship with African liberation movements began as early as the 1960s and the Cuban revolution was a great inspiration particularly during the struggle against colonialism and apartheid.
President Kenyatta will hold talks with Cuban President Raul Castro on Thursday. He will also open Kenya’s embassy building in Havana.
Amb. Anthony Mwaniki Muchiri, Kenya’s top envoy in Cuba, said the opening of the Kenyan mission to the Caribbean would cement relations between the two countries.
He said after liberation, Cuba helped many African nations build and strengthen their health sectors. “A lot was done by Cuba in terms of establishing Africa’s health sector, giving African students scholarships to study in their tertiary institutions,” he said.
“Kenya has to increase the number of doctors in it’s health centres for it to achieve the universal healthcare goal,” Amb. Muchiri added.
President Kenyatta is accompanied by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Amb. Monica Juma, Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Achesa Mohamed and Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Rashid Amani.
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