Tanzanian doctors who have applied to work in Kenya yesterday broke their silence, explaining their expectations of working in the neighbouring country.
As of yesterday, at least 400 newly licensed medics had applied for the job. Early in the month, the Tanzanian government okayed Kenya’s request to send medics as part of the efforts by the neighbouring country’s government to mitigate the effects of the doctors’ strike which paralysed health services.
Tanzania agreed to send 500 medics from the pool of fully licensed doctors, whom it could not employ due to financial constraints.
On March 20 in Nairobi, Kenya’s health cabinet secretary Cleopa Mailu said, “We have so many government health centres that need doctors.”
“Yes, we have doctors in our country; we recently had a doctors’ strike and one of their reasons for their strike was that there were not enough doctors to attend to patients.
The doctors were spending a lot of hours attending to the patients,” said Dr Mailu. One medic, who requested for anonymity because his application was still in process, sai if he would be granted the job in Kenya, all he would ask would be team-spirit from the doctors’ community in the host country.
“I know, it is risky. There are a lot of concerns being raised over this matter of going to work in Kenya. But, it has been two years since I completed my internship at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), and since then, I haven’t had any meaningful contract to practise medicine,’’ he argued.
For him, practising medicine requires people to work as a team and if doctors in Kenya won’t be at ease to work with their Tanzanian counterparts, it would prove difficult for those who have applied.
“I know there was a doctors’ strike in Kenya and matters haven’t been fully settled between the medics and the government. I don’t really know how the doctors in Kenya will treat us once we get to their country. We just want them to know that we’re not taking advantage of the strike. I’m job hunting and I see that this is an opportunity for a win win situation,” he told The Citizen in an interview.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Mr Nsachris Mwamwaja, said until yesterday, the room for applications was still open for Tanzanian doctors.
“The deadline for applications was March 27 (Monday) but we haven’t stopped receiving new applications. So far, at least 400 have applied,’’ said Mr Mwamwaja adding, “ Soon, a special panel will be formed to look at the applications and set procedures on how the doctors will be allowed to go to Kenya.”
About two weeks ago, Kenya’s Health secretary Mailu told the press that Kenya was expecting Tanzanian doctors to begin working in the county and faith-based health facilities during the first week of April. Another applicant, who also requested not to be named, sent his application to the Health ministry soon after the posts were announced but he has been facing stiff resistance from his relatives who don’t want him to go to Kenya.
He is one of the over 2,000 newly licensed medical doctors in Tanzania who have not been recruited to work in state-run hospitals after the government “failed” to employ doctors in the past two years.
“I have applied for the job because I believe the government won’t betray us. We have been promised contracts and better pay in Kenya. I think it’s an opportunity I don’t want to miss,’’ he said.
“Most of my relatives are against my decision to go but I find it adventurous. After all I have been here in the country without a job, why don’t I grab this chance? My hope is that we will be well received in Kenya,’’ he told The Citizen.
Another Doctor, who has been volunteering at MNH for the past six months, says she has applied for the job, knowing too well that there were challenges working in a foreign country but she banked her hopes on the government assurances.
“The government has already assured us that it will be secure for us to work in Kenya. I know that is not enough. Our ability to work well in Kenya will depend on how we cooperate with the locals there. If this is granted, then, I have no problem signing the contact to work in Kenyan hospitals,’’ she said.
The Tanzanian government is expected to employ only about 500 doctors in the 2017/18 financial year, according to Health minister Ummy Mwalimu.
That means that if 500 doctors happen to go to Kenya, plus the other 500 medics that the government says it may recruit, at least half of the doctors who are “jobless” now will have been put on payroll.