The drama beleaguering our healthcare system never seems to end. Kenya’s oldest and largest public hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital, is at the center of yet another healthcare storm. With the Kenyan ‘accept and move on’ culture, it is likely they will survive the rape allegations. This will not be the first time they will be having a scandal on their hands after all. And in all those previous scandals, we made noise for a few days.
Denying the allegations is always the first step to ‘accepting and moving on’. Then stern statements are issued by the government. Investigations are promised into the claims. Then we accepted and moved on.
Here are four instances in the past when the hospital has braved storms without taking responsibility for a mess:
1.The rape accusations didn’t start yesterday (Source: The Standard, July 6, 2013)
A 28-year old patient was allegedly raped by a male nurse, who was later released on a free bond. The woman was hospitalized with 60 percent and had further been weakened by medication for pain. After the incident, a female nurse washed up the patient and kept quiet about it ‘because she had been requested by the patient.’
When quizzed by the media, Dr. Simeon Monda, the Deputy Director for Clinical Services responded with “This matter is under investigations by the authorities. KNH is not an investigation authority and for that reason, I cannot say more”
You can read the story here: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000087630/blame-game-at-kenyatta-national-hospital-over-patient-rape-saga
2.They are also stealing our taxes (Source: NTV News, October 26, 2016)
For all the complaints you get from patients on how they are handled at East Africa’s largest referral hospital, you’d expect that they are not motivated enough (financially at least) to serve their clients. But no! Turns out KNH staff makes millions through irregular payments that are unaccounted for. When you are stealing such amounts of money from poor Kenyans, at least have the decency to treat them well. Mgala muue na haki umpe! For heaven’s sake!
Link to the news story on the lost funds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VC4boAXj3Z4
3.Cancer machines break down at Kenya’s only public facility with such services (Source: Daily Nation, March 18, 2015)
Well, this is more to do with the government’s health policy. But when you are also plundering public funds then you cannot be completely absolved of the blame. How much of those billions looted in fictitious payments could have gone into maintaining those machines?
When you are the people’s only hope, you strive not to let them down. Not give them ‘there’s little we can do about this’ crap. (https://mobile.nation.co.ke/news/Kenyatta-National-Hospital-Radiotherapy-Machines-Cancer/1950946-2658378-format-xhtml-tb8pujz/index.html)
4.Detaining patients over unpaid bills
In August 2017, a 39-year old man jumped from the 7th floor of Kenyatta National Hospital to his death. Maurice Chege Kiarie was treated at the facilities but then detained in the wards over unsettled bills. (http://nairobinews.nation.co.ke/news/patient-death-knh-bill/)
They have also been known to lock up new mothers who are unable to pay maternity fees. “In May, the scandal received national prominence when a local television station used a hidden camera to show how 44 new mothers were being held in a locked room at the Kenyatta National Hospital. A shocked viewer paid nearly £10,000 to clear their bills, but the exposé did little to change practices.” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/aug/13/kenya-maternity-poverty-detained-hospital)
It is inhumane to lock a patient up over unsettled bills. Worse off, they don’t get the luxury of sleeping in beds, getting the floor instead. Why not have a work-to-pay-your-bills arrangement with them? It is possible. And less inhumane too. How are they supposed to raise the money under lockup?
Enough is enough.
It’s about time we made KNH live up to their motto. At the moment, their vision of a world-class patient-centered specialized care hospital is just hullabaloo. They are not patient-centered. It is time for the Kenyan taxpayer to get fed up with being taken for granted.
Of all vulnerable people, new mothers are at the top of the list. The rape allegations are the worst that they can be put through at the weakest moment in their lives. That Lily Koros, and by extension the KNH management, casually dismissed the allegations because they were not reported in a suggestion box is appalling. So much for women empowerment. It is sick! Coming at a time that we are trying to fight the rape culture.
We shouldn’t take this lying down. The least we can do for our traumatised mothers is make sure something happens. And KNH is made safe for everyone. Something has to give. We can no longer accept and move on! Just like we were during my dress my choice, we should sustain the anger until justice is served. Empty calls and promises from leaders seeking political mileage should not blind us. The planned Tuesday protests should be the beginning of demand for justice.