, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19 – Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) Chief Executive Officer Lily Koros says the messages doing rounds on social media, of the rape of mothers who’ve only recently given birth, are made in bad faith.
Koros says the hospital is well secured and covered by closed-circuit television cameras and while confirming that mothers move to feed their newborns in groups she’s denied that it’s motivated by fear.
“Considering that mothers are in numbers, that tells you that they usually move in groups and I want to clarify this, they move in groups not because of insecurity but because of the scheduled timings and we have almost a hundred mothers in the hospital. Mortuary attendants as well as uniformed, operate in pairs and collect bodies as guided by a coordinating office that receives reports on any deaths during the night. The mortuary attendants use service lifts, which are separate from the lifts that are used by patients and clients.”
“We have mothers in ground floor and they’re going to first floor, we have them in third floor and they’re going to first floor; the possibility yes, could be there but I think the proximity if you want to look at it is really minimal.”
She has also sought to paint as unlikely the narrative that morgue attendants terrorise mothers on hospital hallways in the dead of night. “For the mortuary attendants I want to say that like any other employee of this hospital every individual is vetted. Before you’re employed, you actually have to come with a good conduct certificate.”
She also said it was improbable but not impossible that homeless persons seeking shelter in the hospital under the guise of illness preyed on the vulnerable women.
“I’m very sure you’ve seen the security going round often, to ask whether the persons who are seated there, are actually patients or they’re people who are from outside but let’s also appreciate that this is a public institution that you may not entirely bar people from coming in; you don’t know who is sick and who is not sick.”
Nonetheless, she has invited those with horror stories to tell, to use the hotline number 0722-825-599 or in the alternative make use of the hospital’s customer care or security desks and suggestion boxes.
“Of course we did a scan though (the CCTV footage) which cannot be comprehensive so there is nothing we are actually putting under the carpet… up to where we are right now, there is not a single complaint that has been registered on such a case. Not a single one and we have suggestion boxes in the whole hospital. In fact there are four of them addressed to the CEO and I open them personally. We have addressed other concerns and complaints in the past, this one has never arisen.”
She has also invited the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to institute a probe into the safety concerns raised.
Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu has on his part sought to assure the public of their safety in health facilities while giving the hospital’s management until Monday to report back to him with the findings of their internal investigations.
The thought that birthing mothers cannot be certain of their safety even in the largest most celebrated referral hospital in the region has drawn strong reactions not only on social media but from legislators including Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja who has called on the public to wait on the outcome of the investigations before commencing a lynching the hospital’s management.
“I’m glad the CEO has said that she’s speaking not just as CEO but also as a woman and as a mother, and I would hate to think that there could be anybody in leadership or administration of a national institution like this, who would be insensitive, whether they are a man or a woman, to such an allegation.”
The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association Chairperson Purity Ngirici has also expressed dismay at the reports and demanded the criminal prosecution of any and all persons found culpable.