Nine inmates die of cholera at Kamiti prison

Sunday November 22 2009

Hardcore inmates at Kamiti Maximum Prison in a file picture. Thirteen inmates are feared to have died at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison following an outbreak of cholera at the penal institution. CHRIS OJOW

Hardcore inmates at Kamiti Maximum Prison in a file picture. Thirteen inmates are feared to have died at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison following an outbreak of cholera at the penal institution. CHRIS OJOW  

By PAUL JUMA and DOMINIC WABALA

Nine inmates have been confirmed dead following an outbreak of cholera at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.

Eight of the inmates had died in the prison by Sunday morning, and one later died at Kenyatta National Hospital.

However, sources at the prison claim that a total of 13 inmates have died so far at the penal institution.

They said the additional deaths occurred as the patients were being rushed to the hospital after falling ill.

Bodies of the deceased are being kept at the City Mortuary, but Nation could not establish their number as the official authorised to release information concerning the bodies was said to be away.

More than 50 sick inmates are reported to be in isolation at the Kamiti prison and KNH.

Early Sunday, 16 inmates, in serious condition, were transferred from Kamiti to KNH, at 5 am. However, the hospital, through its Public relations officer Simon Ithae, confirmed receiving 15 patients, one of whom he said died at the hospital.

More than 50 inmates were by yesterday afternoon quarantined for treatment at the prison’s isolation block and sick bay, where all sick inmates were transferred, according to prison sources.

By Sunday afternoon, water tankers from the Nairobi City Council were delivering clean water to the prison as doctors issuied water to the patients.

Prison authorities sought medicine and other asistance public health authorities and the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.

Most of the inmates were said to be vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea, with little or no water available.

Relatives of some inmates who were at Kamiti prison over the weekend alleged that the cases were reported two weeks ago, but the officer responsible for recommending hospitalisation of the sick inmates declined to do so.

Among the dead are John Karanja Mwangi, Aloyce Mumo Muli, Joseph Njonjo Mbugua, Philip Mundwa Nzala, Munal Nzau and Mutunga Kioko Muli.

The Commissioner of Prisons, Mr Isaiah Osugo, who arrived back from Israel on Saturday morning, visited Kamiti Maximum Security prison and said that they were doing everything to contain the situation.

By Sunday afternoon, Mr Osugo was reported to be holding a crisis meeting with the Director for Public Health, Dr Shanaz Sharif and senior prisons officers about the situation.

The first cases of the disease were reported at the prison on Friday night, when the first death occurred, according to Mr Osugo.

And on Sunday, he said the situation was critical and could result to more deaths.

Mr Osugo said they suspected some inmates contracted the disease in the courts and later spread it in the prison.

Recently, a cholera outbreak, which left more than nine people dead, occurred in Nairobi’s Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums.

Other suspected cases were reported in Eastleigh and Bahati areas in Nairobi.