18 September 2018

Kenya: Sonko Suspends County Secretary, Health CEC for 'Insubordination' Over Pumwani Saga

Nairobi — Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has suspended four top county officials for what he termed as insubordination over the Pumwani Maternity Hospital saga.

Those suspended are County Secretary Peter Kariuki, Devolution CEC who is the acting Health CEC Veska Kangogo, Chief Officer Health Services Mahat Jimale and County Attorney Lydia Kwamboka.

"The governor has appointed Pauline Kahiga to act as the County Secretary, Charles Kerich to act as the CEC Health, Larry Wambua to act as the CEC Devolution and Public Service, Mohamed Saleh to act as Chief Officer Health Services and David Oseko who is the current Legal Affairs Director to act as County Attorney," Sonko's office said in a statement late Tuesday.

The suspensions came hours after officials from the county led by Kangogo contradicted Sonko over his decision to suspend the health facility's top managers over negligence after bodies of 11 infants were found stashed in polythene bags.

Sonko had announced that there were 12 bodies.

His office said following his impromptu visit to Pumwani Hospital on Monday after a tip-off by members of the public, a crisis Cabinet meeting was held where a unanimous resolution was made to disband the Board of Pumwani Hospital.

"The Cabinet also resolved to interdict both the Medical Superintendent, her deputy, the Hospital's Administrator and the doctor on duty who had not reported to office."

Sonko's office said Monday's action was taken pending investigations.

"The Cabinet resolved to form a multi-agency committee to investigate the matter and ask the managers to provide a satisfactory explanation for what appeared to be gross negligence and mismanagement of the facility or face termination of employment."

Sonko said after Monday's decision, he had noted with concern contradictory statements and actions by a section of senior officials of Nairobi City County Government during a visit to the hospital on Tuesday.

"This clearly contravenes the principle of collective responsibility and amounts to insubordination."

Sonko said he had personally witnessed the facts and the situation at Pumwani Hospital "and it is imperative that every county official commits to the steps taken to address the problems and safeguard the lives of mothers and babies at the facility."

During the visit to the hospital on Tuesday, Kangongo said circumstances under which the 11 deaths occurred cannot be blamed on anyone.

"I would like to state that the deaths have occurred from operations that are normal to health and this being a referral maternity hospital such cases are expected because most of mothers who come here have complications," she said.


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