Kenya: Board Probes Deaths of 5 Infants at Pumwani Hospital

Doctors’ union chairman, Dr Samuel Oroko (left), and union member, Dr Thuranira Kaugiria (right), at Pumwani Maternity Hospital on September 18, 2018 where they faulted Governor Mike Sonko for suspending their colleagues.
21 September 2018

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) has raised questions over the circumstances under which five babies admitted at Pumwani Maternity Hospital died.

These are part of what the KMPDB boss Daniel Yumbya confirmed to be 12 dead infants contrary to the figure given by the hospital as six.

A total of 12 babies died between September 12 and 17, five of whom died under unclear circumstances at the hospital, the KMPDB report said.

While releasing a preliminary report on the facility, KMPDB said the five babies, who had been admitted at the country's premier maternity hospital, succumbed due to what he described as 'different complications'.

He said the board will critically investigate the deaths to know the circumstances under which they occurred.

He also explained that three babies were delivered already dead while four died within 24 hours of life.

AMBULANCE

The board also questioned why the hospital ferries dead bodies to the City Mortuary using ambulances meant to respond to emergency cases.

Mr Yumbya said that it was not only unacceptable but also unhygienic and ironic that whereas the hospital lacks enough ambulances to respond to emergency cases, it uses the available vehicles for corpses.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko's impromptu visit to the hospital has over the last couple of days brought into the limelight questions on the management and daily operations of the hospital, with many asking if there is adequate budget provisions for operations.

"It is true that the facility lacks a cold room for storing bodies. Infection prevention and hygiene control measures are not also adequately adhered to," Mr Yumbya said.

COOLER BOXES

To temporarily address the situation, Mr Sonko pledged to donate 10 cooler boxes to Pumwani.

"As we plan for immediate improvement of maternal care at Pumwani Maternity Hospital, I have personally donated cooler boxes to be installed in a temporary mortuary at the facility," Mr Sonko tweeted on Thursday.

Now, the board wants to know how he got hold of those boxes. According to Mr Yumbya, the board will investigate where Mr Sonko got the boxes.

"Is it that the facility he retrieved those boxes from had more than enough or he created a gap by depleting the resources in that facility he got them from?" Mr Yumbya asked.

The findings show the facility has poor patient documentation. This means a patient's progress like daily monitoring while at the hospital is missing.

"What we found out was that a patient is seen at admission and the next record shows delivery. We have taken certain files for scrutiny and all those involved in the patient management shall be called to give an account of what went wrong," he added.

SHORTAGE

The released inquiry findings were compiled by joint regulatory bodies following Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki's directive for the board to probe the hospital.

The inquiry was headed by Prof Alice Mutungi, Vice Chairperson of KMPDB and a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology.

The findings also show that there are only two functional theatres, with only one operating 24 hours while the other opens its doors at 8am and shuts by 2pm.

"The third theatre is not properly equipped and not operational," said Mr Yumbya.

The joint inquiry committee members drawn from the KMPDB, Nursing Council of Kenya, Clinical Officers Council, the Public Health Officers Council and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board visited the institution, interviewed hospital management, and perused through patient notes among other documents.

Mr Yumbya highlighted that Pumwani does not have enough nurses, doctors, and even clinical officers.

AUDIT

He said beginning next week on Thursday, the board will conduct a systems audit which will compare the staff versus patient ratios across different hospitals to determine what additional staff Pumwani requires to hire.

County Health Committee members on Thursday claimed that conflict between nurses and doctors was the main problem affecting the hospital functions.

Led by Roysambu MCA and chairman of the committee, they claimed that each side is working to sabotage the other hence the problems at Pumwani.

However, led by their union, the nurses dismissed the allegation saying their working condition is poor and they have to make do with the inadequate hospital equipment to deliver babies.

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