President Uhuru Kenyatta, on his first working day of a State visit to Cuba, focused on health, including an aggressive plan to fight malaria. President Kenyatta visited Cuba’s leading research and pharmaceutical group, Labiofam, to study how the Caribbean nation has innovated in its fight against tropical diseases, and signalled that he would work closer with Cuba to replicate its success. President Kenyatta was due to attend official reception ceremonies in the Cuban capital Havana starting 17.20 pm (0020 Kenyan time), followed by bilateral talks and a State banquet in his honour hosted by President Raul Castro. The President’s delegation includes Marsabit Governor Mohamud Mohamed and Kisumu Peter Anyang Nyong’o.
As Health is a devolved function, governors are a key factor in the delivery of the President’s health agenda. At Labiofam, the Cuban research group, the President was given a detailed briefing on vector control and other measures to fight malaria, a major killer in Africa. The President expects collaboration with Cuba to significantly improve Kenya’s fight against malaria, with a sharp focused on near eradication. Through Labiofam, Cuba would train health staff undertaking malaria programmes in Kenya so as to utilise, minimise costs and time taken to fully implement the programme. Later on Thursday, President Kenyatta is scheduled to hold talks with President Castro. They will cement cooperation in the field of Sports; immigration, agriculture and fisheries, culture and tax matters. They will also give impetus to an already existing health cooperation agreement, and talk to encouraging more education exchanges between Cuban and Kenyan students. So far, Cuba has provided scholarships to 48 Kenyan students. The country is keen on building capacity and increasing the number of medical specialists in orthopaedic surgery, oncology, neurology, trauma management, among other areas that Cuba has excelled in.