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Cuban Doctors Speak About their Two-Week Stay in Mandera, a town near Somalia's border

Monday July 23, 2018

Two Cuban doctors posted in Mandera County, an area branded Kenya's hotbed of insecurity, have opened up about their two-week stay.

In the past few years, the county alongside other counties bordering neighboring Somalia have experienced a series of attacks from Al-Shabaab militants.

The two specialists say a quick google search about their new work station before they were posted painted a picture of doom and gloom. They say top results talked about abduction and bomb blasts by the dreaded terror group Al Shabaab.

Dr Assel Herera Correa (general physician) and Dr Landy Rodriguez (surgeon), who are attached at the Mandera County Referral Hospital now say they have adopted well to the new surroundings and the security situation there is complete opposite of what they were made to believe.

“The first thing I did was to check the internet and the security situation shocked me. It was all about bombs! I did not know what to do and my colleagues felt sorry for me. Cuban doctors work in all sorts of conditions within 75 countries,” says Dr Correa, who has worked in Botswana and Venezuela before.

“Unlike what I saw on the net before coming here, this place is secure and I would not mind my wife and daughter joining me,” he says, adding that he's keen to learn Kiswahili and Somali.

He says local residents are friendly and he is adapting to the culture, his colleague, Dr Rodriguez giving a similar story.

“The food is good and I am planning to taste camel and goat meat soon. I love tea with milk though I do not know how to differentiate camel milk from cow milk,” says Rodriguez.

Rodriguez says he handles 10 surgical cases a day, but language has been the main challenge, forcing them to download a Google application that translates English to Spanish.

“I need a translator most of the time but I am trying my best to learn Kiswahili. Kenyan doctors should come here if they want to get more experience,” he says.

Mandera County Health Executive Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed said the Cuban doctors have transformed service delivery at the facility.

The county has in the past had to grapple with shortage of qualified medics due to unwillingness by Kenyans to move there for fear of insecurity.


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