Kenya Restricts Foreign Medical Internships Following Termination of Cuban Doctor Exchange Program

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC) has issued a directive restricting foreign medical graduates from undertaking their internships in Kenya. The new directive emphasizes that these graduates must first complete their internships in their home countries before seeking registration in Kenya. This move follows the recent termination of the Cuban Doctor Exchange Program by the Kenyan Government and aims to prioritize local medical professionals.

Key Directive Details:

The KMPDC directive explicitly states that foreign nationals are no longer allowed to pursue medical or dental internships in Kenya. Instead, they are required to fulfill their internship requirements in their respective countries of nationality before seeking registration in Kenya. This directive is in line with efforts to strengthen the local medical workforce and ensure that internationally trained medical professionals meet standardized criteria.

Certification Requirement:

In addition to the internship directive, the KMPDC has urged doctors intending to practice in Kenya to obtain certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). This certification is now a prerequisite for the permanent registration process with KMPDC, emphasizing the council’s commitment to maintaining high healthcare standards.

Termination of Cuban Doctor Exchange Program:

The directive aligns with the discontinuation of the Cuban Doctor Exchange Program in October, a decision justified by Health CS Susan Nakhumicha, who emphasized the capability of Kenyan medical professionals to manage hospital operations and deliver quality healthcare. The move was met with prior opposition from the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU).

Union Opposition and Program Costs:

The KMPDU had voiced opposition to the Cuban Doctor Exchange Program, citing concerns over excessive spending. Dr. Davji Bhimji Atellah, KMPDU Secretary-General, highlighted the financial implications, stating that the cost of employing 150 Cuban medical professionals could have supported the recruitment of 500 Kenyan doctors. Differences in family medicine practice between Kenya and Cuba were also noted, emphasizing the need for additional training.

Impact on Local Graduates:

With the new KMPDC directive, local medical graduates are expected to benefit from enhanced employment prospects, as international competition for internships is restricted. The directive aligns with the council’s commitment to maintaining healthcare standards and ensuring that medical and dental practitioners meet specified criteria, thereby reinforcing the significance of local talent in the healthcare sector.

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